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Tri-Cities mayors plead for another COVID-19 public testing site

FILE - A Fraser Health healthcare worker tests a patient at a drive through COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., Monday, April 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Summary

Tri-Cities mayors calling on province, FHA to step up after the only COVID-19 testing site in the area is set to close

Doctors who run a private clinic in Port Coquitlam say with limited staff and resources, they simply can't continue

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said city has been working the Fraser Health Authority to open a new testing facility

PORT COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) — It’s not clear when the Tri-Cities will get a new COVID-19 testing clinic after the only one in the region announced it’s closing next week.

Doctors at the Tri-Cities COVID-19 and Influenza-Like Illness Assessment Clinic along Lougheed Highway in Port Coquitlam say they opened in June with the understanding that a new high capacity public COVID-19 testing site would open in several weeks.

With a facility still lacking four months later, the doctors at the private clinic say they don’t have the staff or resources to keep going after next Friday.

It has mayors in the Tri-Cities expressing concern with how far people will have to go to get tested.

“Fraser Health has been looking for a site for a facility. I know that they’ve identified one and I believe they’ve secured it. The city is working with them to try to get it up and running … make sure that it gets up and running as quickly as possible,” Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart told NEWS 1130.

The only COVID-19 testing facility in the Tri-Cities is being shutdown as of next week.@MonikaGul will have the latest on @NEWS1130 throughout the morning. pic.twitter.com/SG9Pn1OC8F

“There’s no question though that the lack of a testing facility in the interim is significantly problematic. We need people that are symptomatic of COVID to be able to be tested without having to drive or take transit to another community.”

Stewart is hopeful that the facility can open “really quickly.”

NEWS 1130 has reached out to the Fraser Health Authority for confirmation and details.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West agrees it’s unacceptable for people in the Tri-Cities to have to leave the area to get tested.

“The reality is we need the provincial government and Fraser Health to step up here. This already had been a situation where it had been left to group of doctors to come together and get it done,” he told NEWS 1130.

“This is their responsibility, and, at a time when, in my view, we should be ramping up testing, it’s just completely unacceptable that people in the Tri-Cities would not have a testing facility.”

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The doctors who run the Tri-Cities COVID-19 and Influenza-Like Illness Assessment Clinic say they’re sad and frustrated to announced their closure.

“As a group of independent family physicians that all work in our own family practices, we have had the honour and privilege to serve you and the community since June 15th, 2020. We took time away from our usual routines, and started the Tri-Cities COVID-19 Clinic due to the lack of publicly available COVID-19 testing in our area,” they say in a letter to people who live in the Tri-Cities.

“With our limited staff and resources, we are no longer able to continue running our testing site because our doctors are burnt out and our staff are overworked — we simply cannot continue for our own health.”

After it closes, the closest testing facilities for people in the Tri-Cities will be in Maple Ridge at the Ridge Meadows Primary and Urgent Care Centre and in Burnaby at the Central Park Drive-Thru Site.