Local health and care providers working together to maximize capacity for assessment and testing

NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY – Friday, October 9, 2020 – Local health and community care providers are working together through the Ontario Health Team of Northumberland (OHT-N) partnership to maximize Northumberland County’s capacity for COVID-19 assessment and testing.

Formed prior to the pandemic, the OHT-N is proving to be a very effective table to quickly mobilize community resources around this unprecedented public health challenge.

The partners are implementing a proactive, phased approach to care delivery that is currently focusing health human resources where they are needed most (in Northumberland’s two COVID-19 Assessment Centres) while preparing to quickly increase additional testing capacity as local needs require and provincial direction permits.

Phase 1 - COVID-19 Assessment and Testing Services Now Available in Northumberland County

Staffed by a mix of hospital, primary care and community paramedics, the two dedicated COVID-19 Centres serving patients in Northumberland County currently operate on an ‘appointment only’ basis. Per provincial direction, patients are now required to phone the Centres in advance to schedule an appointment (walk-in appointments are no longer available). This model allows clinic staff to prioritize those who most require assessment and testing—based on the latest provincial eligibility criteria—and to manage physical distancing requirements.

The services available at each Centre differ slightly. Through a temporary arrangement with the Northumberland Family Health Team, the Community Health Centres of Northumberland, and local primary care physicians, the NHH COVID-19 Assessment Centre (open daily, 8AM to 4PM) is now able to offer patients the option to see a primary care provider (family physician or nurse practitioner) in addition to receiving a COVID-19 test. The aim of the primary care provider access is three-fold: to improve access for local families in need of a physician or nurse practitioner’s assessment for symptoms that may or may not be COVID-19 at the same time testing is received; to provide care to patients with COVID-19 symptoms in a dedicated space, outside of the family physicians’ office where other patients are receiving care; and, to reduce strain on area primary care offices, thereby freeing them up to focus on other patient care needs.

In an effort to free up much-needed space within the hospital’s Emergency Department, where the Centre is currently being operated, and minimize traffic in and out of the main hospital site, NHH has secured a new self-enclosed trailer that will be set up on the lawn immediately in front of the entrance. No change in service is anticipated, and the transition to the new trailer is expected to be possible in the coming weeks.

Planning is taking place to determine the need to expand services available at the Trent Hills COVID-19 Testing Centre in Campbellford, as well. Currently, the Campbellford Centre is open Monday to Thursday from 9AM to 5PM.

Below is a table explaining the services currently available at each Centre, and the numbers to call to access these services.

Assessment Centres
CentreLocationHours of operationServices available
NHH COVID-19 Assessment Centre 1000 DePalma Drive, Cobourg – entry is currently adjacent to the NHH Emergency Department, with a dedicated entry/exit; it is expected to be relocated in the coming weeks into the NEW trailer space being installed October 8, 2020. Open daily, 8AM to 4PM
  • COVID-19 testing for eligible patients
  • Primary care provider assessment (Nurse Practitioner, physician) of patients eligible for COVID-19 testing as needed for other related care needs, eg. strep throat, common cold, prescription, etc.
  • Pre-scheduled appointments only – call 905-377-7783
Trent Hills COVID19 Testing Centre At 146 Oliver Road in Campbellford, lower side level of Campbellford Memorial Hospital (the old Ambulance Bay).  Open Monday to Thursday, 9AM to 5PM
  • COVID-19 testing available for eligible patients
  • Pre-scheduled appointments only – call 705-395-1801 

Who should be tested at the Centres listed above?

Local residents are encouraged to schedule an appointment with a local COVID-19 Assessment Centre if they:

  • have COVID-19 symptoms (see what those symptoms are, or take a self assessment, on Ontario’s COVID-19 website
  • have been notified by public health or the COVID Alert app that they have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus;
  • have been notified by public health that they are a resident or worker in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak;
  • have had a school health nurse, public health or primary care provider (family physician or nurse practitioner) tell them to be tested;
  • are eligible for testing as part of a targeted Ministry of Health testing initiative;
  • live or work in a setting considered at-risk for COVID-19, such as a long-term care home, community shelter or other congregate living setting;
  • will be visiting a long-term care home.

Phase 2 – Planning for additional COVID-19 testing and assessment

If the transmission of COVID-19 increases, the demand for assessment and testing is expected to increase too.

“As a team, your OHT-N wants to be in a position to swiftly open dedicated testing sites to help you get the support you need, and avoid our existing Assessment Centres, Emergency Departments and primary care offices from being overwhelmed,” said Linda Davis, spokesperson for the OHT-N and President and CEO at Northumberland Hills Hospital.

With that goal in mind, Phase 2 of the Team’s planning has laid out the steps necessary to open additional testing sites at alternate locations in the County. Mobile pop-up services will also be implemented swiftly for specific institutional or community sites as required, with support from Northumberland County’s Community Paramedicine program. Hours of operation may also be adjusted at the two existing sites, as need arises.

Key factors in the opening of additional assessment and testing capacity in Northumberland will be an increase in the prevalence of the virus in our community and the associated need to test.

“The turnaround time for test results is currently longer than desired in some cases,” said Davis. “This is due to the large number of tests being performed across the province. As announced by the province on October 6th , the government will be adding more testing locations to improve access and reduce wait times, as well as increased processing capacity within the provincial laboratory network. Our aim here in Northumberland is to be ready to respond as needed.”

Taking precautionary measures is the best way to continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The OHTN encourages Northumberland residents and visitors to:

  1. Maintain physical distancing: Don’t give the virus a chance to spread. Keep a minimum distance of two metres (six feet) from other people outside of your immediate household.
  2. Wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible, or required
  3. Practice good hand hygiene: Clean your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just washed your hands.
  4. Limit your social circle: Carefully observe provincial recommendations for limiting contacts outside your immediate household. As we head into a long weekend, OHT-N partners are strongly urging Northumberland residents to avoid the traditional Thanksgiving gatherings this year, to minimize the risk of spreading the virus or exposing those in our families and social circles who may be vulnerable.
  5. Download the COVID Alert app - Get a phone alert if you may have been exposed to COVID-19, and let others know if you test positive without sharing any personal information, by downloading  the COVID Alert app

About the OHT-N

Drawing on a strong history of collaboration, patients, caregivers, health and social care providers from across Northumberland County are working together to improve patient and caregiver experience of health care in our community, as well as provider work-life experience, through the Ontario Health Team (OHT) model. On December 6, 2019, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott visited the Colborne Emergency Services Base to announce the Ontario Health Team of Northumberland 3 (OHT-N) as one of the first 24 OHT candidates in the province. The OHT-N is now moving forward with implementing this new model of organizing and delivering health care, better connecting local patients and health care providers in order to improve patient outcomes. COVID-19 has provided an unexpected opportunity to capitalize on these partnerships. For more information please visit the OHT-N website, OHTNorthumberland.ca, email the team care of info@ohtnorthumberland.ca or reach out by phone care of the contacts below.

Media contacts

Jennifer Gillard
Senior Director, Public Affairs and Strategic Partnerships
Northumberland Hills Hospital
Email Jennifer Gillard

Kate Campbell
Director, Communications
Northumberland County
905-372-3329, ext. 2335
Email Kate Campbell