WINDSOR, ONT. -- A new assessment centre for COVID-19 has been approved by Ontario Health to set up at Erie Shores Health Care in Leamington.

The new centre will be located within the hospital and will begin screening people on Thursday, April 16, and will operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week.

It will be on a walk-in basis with no referral or pre-screen by primary care, Public Health, or Telehealth required.

“The ESHC COVID-19 Assessment Center is welcomed news to the communities in which we serve,” says Janice Dawson, CEO, Erie Shores HealthCare. “Last week Premier Ford announced the need for increased COVID 19 testing across the province with emphasis being given to all sector health care providers, patients and residents in long term care and retirement homes and other vulnerable groups.”

The assessment centre is located at the ambulatory clinic entrance off Fader St. Next to the emergency department. It also has a segregated entrance with no hospital access.

“The announcement today allows ESHC to respond and provide assessment and testing to individuals in Essex County that are experiencing symptoms which could be caused by the COVID 19 virus,” Dawson says.

The same rules will apply for people looking to get tested - a clinical assessment must be completed before any testing can occur and groups will be prioritized for testing based on a directive from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams.

That list, provided by Erie Shores Health Care, includes:

  • Symptomatic health care workers and staff who work in health care facilities;
  • Symptomatic residents and staff in long term care facilities and retirement homes;
  • Asymptomatic new admissions or re-admissions to long-term care or retirement home
  • Hospitalized patients admitted with respiratory symptoms (new or exacerbated);
  • Symptomatic members of remote, isolated, rural and/ or indigenous communities;
  • Symptomatic travellers identified at a point of entry to Canada;
  • Symptomatic community/ ambulatory people with medical co-morbidities;
  • Symptomatic community/ ambulatory people working in an essential industry with the inability to isolate, such as migrants workers;
  • Symptomatic healthcare workers, caregivers (i.e. volunteers, family members of residents in an institutional setting), care providers (e.g., employees, privately-hired support workers) and first responders.

It is being recommended that people looking to be screened first reach out to family doctors and primary care providers, who will then determine if individuals meet the testing criteria. If that’s the case, primary care providers will provide patients with a referral form.

According to Erie Shores hospital officials, all hospitals are encouraging appointments but are still allowing some walk-in traffic for assessment centres.

When arriving to the assessment centre, hospital officials want people to present to the screening trailer, after which they will be assessed to determine if a swab is required.

“The COVID 19 Assessment Center will keep symptomatic patients out of the Emergency Department so the hospital can remain focused on the highest acute care needs of this community,” says Dr. Ross Moncur, chief of staff at Erie Shores.