By Lisa Gervais

Six people – including two Haliburton Highlands Health Services employees – were screened at the County’s new COVID-19 assessment centre March 31 as it officially opened for business.

The tent is in the parking lot of the Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team building.

Dr. Norm Bottum of the health team said the idea is to keep people who might have COVID-19 away from the Haliburton and Minden emergency departments as they do not want cross-contamination.

“Remote assessment sites are very critical,” he said. “Definitely an important part of our plan. Looks like we’re ready and working and it’s all good.”

People must have a pre-booked appointment to use the centre. They enter through the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School driveway, are checked to make sure they have an appointment, and then make their way to the large white screening tent that has been set up.

They are asked about their medical history, have their temperature taken and oxygen levels assessed. They are swabbed if that is deemed necessary and asked to self-isolate at home for 72 hours until their results are known.

Bottum said in serious cases of COVID-19, patients tend to see doctors first. In the case of screening, he said they will likely pick up cases of people who are exhibiting mild symptoms. However, that can make them more dangerous because they are not all that sick, but are still harbouring germs they can spread around. He said it’s these people the centre wants to send into isolation.

He added he hopes most people who come through the assessment centre will have mild symptoms and be told to stay at home. But, “we have to be prepared. We are very prepared at this point to deal with any issues.”

To access the centre:

1. If you are unwell, complete the COVID-19 self-assessment at Ontario.ca/coronavirus 

2. If indicated by the self-assessment results, contact the Haliburton County COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre at 705-457-1212 (press 6) during regular business hours.

3. The centre is staffed by health care providers who will complete a phone assessment and advise as to appropriate next steps, which may include self-monitoring, self-isolation, or further assessment and possible testing in the drive-through facility. Testing is by appointment only. Testing will be administered according to Ministry of Health guidelines based on the results of assessment. Not everyone will be tested.

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