Kitchener COVID-19 testing site reports about 100 no-shows daily

WATCH ABOVE: Ontario health officials say people are booking multiple appointments and not cancelling, which has led to wasted slots, and some hospitals testing under capacity. Mark Carcasole reports.

A hospital in southwestern Ontario says its COVID-19 testing centre has been experiencing about 100 no-shows every day since switching to an appointment-only system.

A spokeswoman with the Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, Ont., said Friday that it appears people seeking tests are making bookings at multiple sites but only showing up at the appointment that’s most convenient.

“We understand that everyone is feeling certainly frustrated and they want the peace of mind of having a test,” Cheryl Evans said in an interview. “When you do book, try to stick to one facility or one test centre.”

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The hospital’s drive-thru COVID assessment centre — which moved to an appointment system in mid-September — has 550 testing slots available daily, most of which get filled within minutes of bookings opening each morning, Evans said.

But only about 450 tests are actually being conducted, since some people simply aren’t showing up to their appointments, she said.

Evans said the assessment centre tries to open up appointments when it gets cancellations, but can only do so if those who made the original booking inform the centre that they no longer need the slot.

“If you have to cancel, it’s only one phone call that you have to make, because it does reduce access to testing for other members of our community who may need it,” she said.

Evans added that she’s heard of the same issue at other testing sites in the region.

The Grand River Hospital site switched to an appointment system in mid-September after experiencing intense demand for testing and aggression from individuals frustrated with long lines for walk-in testing, Evans said.

The province announced last Friday that all testing centres would switch to an appointment-only model in a bid to address crippling line ups. That change took effect Tuesday.

On Friday, the health ministry urged people not to seek testing at multiple sites, saying that resulted in delayed access for all.

“If you have already booked an appointment at an assessment centre and can no longer make it, please cancel and rebook your time so others who need a test can be seen,” said spokesman Christian Hasse.

Ontario reported a record 939 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and said it had conducted 44,914 tests since the last daily report.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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