In response to lower rates of COVID-19 and reduced testing eligibility, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare is closing the COVID-19 Assessment Centre in Bracebridge effective March 31, 2023.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, access to COVID-19 testing and assessment was provided in a portable behind the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Site, supported by community partners including family health teams and community paramedics.
“These efforts to operate an assessment centre were a significant part of our COVID-19 response, and we extend our thanks to all of the staff, physicians and community providers who worked shifts to ensure access to this service,” says President & CEO Cheryl Harrison.
For the past 32 months, consistent with current testing guidance that only allows for testing of high-risk individuals, MAHC has seen a local reduction in demand for services. Volumes decreased from an average of 1,705 visits per month at peak of pandemic, an average of 90-100 visits per day, to 48 visits in March 2023, an average of only two or three visits per day.
Going forward, access to COVID-19 testing is available at local pharmacies, and rapid antigen tests continue to be available at no cost through more than 3,000 retailers across Ontario.
“We are following government direction that assessment centres across the province can close,” says Harrison. “If you have severe respiratory symptoms, our Emergency Departments are here for you, or visit www.mahc.ca/wheretogetcaremuskoka for alternative care options.”
For adults, severe symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of consciousness and/or confusion. For children, severe symptoms include working hard or straining to breathe, bluish skin, inability to breastfeed or drink, very sleepy or difficult to wake, peeing less than usual, fever with rash, seizures or convulsions, or fever in an infant younger than three months.
If you think you need a COVID-19 test, assessment, or treatment, you can:
· contact your pharmacy or locate the nearest pharmacy that provides COVID-19 testing
· contact your primary care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner)
· call 811 or visit www.ontario.ca/health811 for more information about testing, assessment and treatment
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