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GUEST OPINION: COVID-19 drive-thru offers efficient service

EMS attendants prepare swabs for testing Marlene Bryenton's grandchildren for COVID-19. The tests came back negative.
EMS attendants prepare swabs for testing Marlene Bryenton's grandchildren for COVID-19. The tests came back negative. - Contributed

Marlene Bryenton
Guest opinion


Did you know that a child with a runny nose has to have a COVID-19 test before returning to school? We recently discovered this, when both our grandchildren came down with head colds. They had to go in isolation until a negative result was posted. Public Health will phone when positive COVID-19 results are discovered.

I think COVID-19 testing is going to be a nightmare for many parents, but the safety of other students and staff has to come first. Going to school with a head cold is no longer acceptable. We as caregivers, did not have to isolate as we had no symptoms.

I noticed that a friend on Facebook had taken her daughter to the Eastlink Centre COVID-19 drive-thru clinic to be tested. Poppy, Grammie and Daddy bundled up our five-year-old and two-year-old grandchildren and headed for the clinic. This clinic can be a very scary experience for a child. Two men, who looked like aliens, peered in the van window. Good job we took some stuffed animals for moral support.

We arrived around 11 a.m. To our surprise there were only a few cars ahead of us. The service was very fast and efficient. We were guided through a corral of orange pylons and asked the COVID-19 questions. Also included was an information sheet on how to access the test results online. We were told we would have results within 72 hours.

Marlene Bryenton recently took her grandchildren to a COVID-19 drive-thru clinic and got the negative result within 24 hours. - Contributed
Marlene Bryenton recently took her grandchildren to a COVID-19 drive-thru clinic and got the negative result within 24 hours. - Contributed

Two friendly EMS attendants talked to the children. One went to the driver's side and the other to the passenger side of the van. Quick as a wink, the tests were done. One grandchild never shed a tear but the other one was not so happy. Thankfully, Mommy packed treats for a reward! Parents and grandparents know all the tricks!

We were in and out in about 30 minutes, which I think is very impressive when you consider how many COVID-19 tests are being done each day.

I told a retired lab technician friend how impressed I was with the service. She reminded me that it is the lab technicians that make up the kits to do the swabs, perform the testing and get the results quickly. This is over and above their regular work.

One technician can perform 400 tests in a shift. Yet another technician had blisters on her fingers from opening and closing tubes. Can you imagine making 1,000 kits in a day? This has to be some kind of record. We have very dedicated staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

To my amazement, the grandchildren's negative result was available online, a mere 20 hours after testing. This may be due to the fact that an evening shift of lab technicians has been added.

So many people take health care for granted. I want to extend kudos to all the lab technicians who work behind the scenes to support the COVID Clinic and also the general day-to-day testing done at the hospital. Also a shout out to the drive-thru team who made our visit as pleasant as possible. We are so blessed to live on P.E.I.!

Marlene Bryenton is a grandmother who lives in Charlottetown.

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