Don’t go to COVID-19 assessment sites without calling 811 first

The Nova Scotia Health Authority is reminding people not to show up to the province’s new COVID-19 assessment sites without first calling 811 for an appointment.

It is also limiting to two the number of people who can visit inpatients at health authority facilities, due to concerns about the spread of illnesses including COVID-19.

On Wednesday morning, 120 people showed up at a coronavirus testing centre at the Cobequid Community Health Centre in Lower Sackville. Many did not call ahead for an appointment, which resulted in a lineup.

“That’s causing some considerable strain on resources at the centre,” said health authority spokesperson Brendan Elliott. “We don’t want somebody just showing up to the hospital. They may end up waiting for a long period of time.

“But also, they may end up in a position where they might expose other people to what they’re sick with, and that was the whole point of trying to set up these assessment centres, is to ensure that there’s no incidental spread.”

People who are evaluated on 811 and then sent to an assessment site will get an appointment if they need it, and will not have to wait in line. Staff will be prepared to receive them at that time. 

Strain on resources

However, many people who are concerned about their health do not actually need to go to the hospital, and Elliott said that’s what the 811 process will determine. 

“We don’t know how many of them would have been filtered out and not required to come to hospital if they’d called 811 first. So we end up being in a position where we have to process every one of these people, which is not a great use of our staff resources,” he said.   

On Monday, Dr. Todd Hatchette, the health authority’s head of microbiology, released more information about the eight clinics around the province where assessment and testing will be done. The sites have the capacity to test 200 people a day in total. 

Elliott said the health authority has the option to open more sites if people who are being sent there by 811 are not getting appointments fast enough.

Limiting hospital visitors

On Wednesday afternoon the NSHA announced it is restricting the number of people who can visit in-patients at all its facilities across the province. 

Patients in hospitals are being asked to choose up to two people to be their main visitors. The patients will be able to change those names over time, but visits will be limited to the two people named by the patient. 

The health authority is also reminding people who are sick or who live with someone who is sick not to visit. 

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