WINDSOR, ONT. -- Windsor Regional Hospital is expanding the weekday hours of operation for the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Ouellette Campus.

Hospital officials say it is in response to consistently high volumes of individuals seeking a swab test for the virus.

“Those adults who need general anesthetic for their surgery need to come in and get tested in advance so that’s causing a little increase in volume,” says hospital spokesperson Steve Erwin.

Another reason for increased volume is because many long-term care homes require testing before visits are allowed.

“The more people that we can get tested, the less there could be an opportunity for someone who may symptomatic but could still transmit that virus to someone else,” says Erwin.

Effective Saturday, July 11, the Ouellette campus COVID-19 Assessment Centre will be open one hour earlier, and one hour later - from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hours on Saturdays and Sundays are unchanged - 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The adjustment is being made to reflect increased volume, which reached a new record high of 329 visitors on Wednesday, July 8.

Hours were extended in May after hitting record-breaking volumes, but scaled back again on June 4 amid a significant drop-off in late afternoon visitors.

In more recent days, they have seen steady volumes throughout the day, including situations where some individuals had to be turned away in late afternoon because volumes were too high for available staffing resources. In response, the hospital is adding the additional hours to better accommodate visitors.

“We want to welcome anyone that wants to get assessed and have that clarity of mind knowing that they tested negative at that point in time,” says Erwin.

Weekday volumes have been above 260 per day since June 26, with the exception of Canada Day, when 183 attended the assessment centre for testing.

In total, 14,256 individuals have come to the COVID-19 Assessment Centre for testing since it opened on March 16.

More than 95 per cent of these individuals received a test.

After initially being based on a specific set of guidelines, the criteria for testing has expanded since the start of the pandemic and since April 1, hospital officials say the vast majority of those who arrived for an assessment have received a swab test.

Cynthia Wiebe has a son currently in the hospital and has seen the long lines.

“So now that I’ve been here for almost seven days now, I see everyone lining up to get tested and because I’ve been in and out of so much I feel like after this before he gets discharged, I’m definitely going to come and get tested,” says Wiebe.