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APL and AHS have worked with doctors ordering lab work for patients to ensure those most in need of testing are prioritized, and patients are encouraged to discuss the urgency of their tests with their doctor. . But queues at walk-in labs for elective testing can be long, and scheduling appointments takes weeks.
Calgarian Helen Adams said she waited about two and a half hours online for lab tests in early September. She understands the importance of COVID-19 testing but wants to see a better strategy in place for the winter when people won’t be able to stay outside for such long periods of time.
“Even the meeting times on the day I left were delayed by half an hour to 45 minutes,” Adams said.
“I saw queues around the corner at the Sunridge Lab. People start to line up for its opening at 7 a.m., a quarter past six. But in bad weather and colder it will be banned, and at the moment many elderly patients are standing. It is possible to wait in your car for a phone call instead of standing, but this does not work for everyone. ”
Walk-in patients can sign up to receive notification over the phone in turn if they prefer to wait nearby, such as their car or a store. As winter approaches, lab workers are figuring out how to safely open more waiting space inside, AHS said.
Two weeks ago, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta, announced that asymptomatic testing for Albertans who are not in priority groups would no longer be recommended. Fewer asymptomatic tests would ease the burden on health workers who, at the time, were performing well over 15,000 tests per day.
While it’s great that labs have a surge capacity to reach up to 20,000 COVID-19 tests in a day if needed, Hinshaw said their goal was not to consistently maintain that number on a daily basis.
By asking fewer asymptomatic people to get tested, AHS hopes it will reduce the pressure on the LPA so they can focus more on non-COVID-19 lab work.
“Our number one priority remains protecting the health of Albertans as we continue to provide safe and efficient laboratory services to Albertans,” the release said.