The LifeLabs group of medical testing facilities is reducing public hours at its patient service centres in B.C. and Ontario as it shifts resources to assisting health ministries with COVID-19 testing.
Some of the company’s facilities are closed and others are restricting hours as non-essential testing capacity is moved to take medical referrals for coronavirus testing, LifeLabs president Charles Brown said in a letter to customers March 30. The company is currently handling 600 tests a day in B.C. and 1,000 a day in Ontario.
“Please note, we are not testing for COVID-19 at our patient service centres,” Brown said, citing the need for providing essential medical tests and managing with “a global shortage of protective equipment for our front-line staff.”
LifeLabs urges customers to use its online appointment booking and “save my spot” app to reduce walk-in traffic and allow physical distancing in its public facilities.
People concerned about COVID-19 exposure or symptoms are being referred to the B.C. health ministry’s self-assessment website to get direction on their personal situation. Additional staff has been added to B.C.’s 8-1-1 HealthLink phone line, which also has web advice on health conditions.
B.C. has established an additional toll-free phone line at 1-888-268-4319 (1-888-COVID19) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. seven days a week for non-medical information about the virus. That includes the latest information on travel recommendations and social distancing, as well as access to support and services from the provincial and federal governments.
B.C. has increased its COVID-19 testing capacity to about 3,000 per day with health authority labs and the assistance of LifeLabs. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says testing has increasingly focused on daily checks of employees in hospitals and long-term care homes, where there has been a series of infection clusters that have resulted in deaths of people with underlying chronic health issues.