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Message from Dr. Stanwick and Victoria Schmid re: COVID Testing Call Centre

As you may be aware, Island Health is experiencing a surge in calls to our COVID-19 testing call centre. In the past few days we are nearing 900 calls per day, which is approximately four times the normal average and this is creating very long wait times and frustration for many.

Healthcare provider referrals and self-referrals for people who are asymptomatic, and do not meet the BC testing criteria have increased demand on the call centre, creating delays in scheduling test appointments for symptomatic patients. We would appreciate your help in educating patients and colleagues about the BC testing criteria on symptomatic patients, to help manage expectations and unnecessary frustrations in people being denied testing.

Current direction from the Province and Dr. Bonnie Henry is to not test asymptomatic persons, including asymptomatic pre-surgical patients, and we are following this direction. We accept patients into surgery based on screening criteria. If, based on that criteria, a test is required, it will be performed. Tests performed on asymptomatic patients days before the surgery are ineffective as much can change between the test date and the day of surgery.

We do recognize the importance of early detection and follow-up in preventing transmission of COVID-19. We are working as quickly as possible to recruit more staff to help support our call-centre and appreciate your support in ensuring referrals are for symptomatic patients.

Thank you.