COVID-19 rapid testing available in Southside

New machine has been installed at Health and Wellness Centre

First test on the machine was performed on Oct. 22. (File photo/Black Press)

First test on the machine was performed on Oct. 22. (File photo/Black Press)

A new machine that performs rapid COVID-19 is now available for use at the Southside Health and Wellness Centre (SHWC). The first test on the machine was done on Oct. 22, which came back negative.

The machine, which was provided by First Nations Health Authority, has been at the centre for a few weeks, but wasn’t available for public until staff was properly trained so they understood the process.

Lakes District News spoke to SHWC Coordinator Aileen Serle, who said that the machine is appointment based. “We would prefer that people make appointments, mainly to help maintain social distancing, and also because there you can’t just walk up and use it yourself, there is a process involving nurses,” said Serle.

In order to use the machine, you must wait outside in the parking lot, where a nurse will come out and perform a questionnaire about symptoms, and then take a nasal swab into the centre to put it through the machine. Test results come back within 15 minutes.

“We don’t want to risk someone who potentially has COVID-19 entering the building, and there really isn’t any isolated waiting room available, so the parking lot system is the best solution to keep everyone safe,” said Serle.

With the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the Lakes District, Serle believes this machine will make an impact in terms of stopping the spread. “For me, the idea is that we can get people tested right away so if they’re are in fact positive they know without any doubt that they have to self isolate. Hopefully this will make a difference, preventing COVID-19 positive individuals from unknowingly spreading the virus to other people.”

If a person’s test results come back negative, as part of protocol, the SHWC will require that person to return for a second test a few days later. This is to combat against false positives.

According to Serle, there are no official rules about who can use the machine, though it is not intended for the purpose of work and travel, and SHWC would prefer to keep it just locally to to personnel restrictions they have. “If someone from Burns Lake came to get tested we probably wouldn’t send them away, but it is preferred that we keep it as local as possible because we only have so many nurses on staff,” she said.

There is no rapid testing technology at the Lakes District Health Centre, however, According to Northern Health Spokesperson Eryn Collins, it’s used in select circumstances. “Point-of-Care rapid testing has been used in select circumstances in health care settings, including the local long-term care facility. For example; for staff testing during the interim period of health care worker vaccine mandate. It has also been used at other sites in outbreak circumstances, as part of enhanced monitoring and testing,” said Collins.

READ MORE: COVID-19-related hospital cases continue to rise in B.C.

READ MORE: B.C.’s highest test positivity rate in Northern region, lowest in Vancouver Coastal

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Eddie Huband
Multimedia Reporter
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