Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare is announcing changes to its COVID-19 testing procedures in the district.

Until now, assessment centres in Muskoka have been staffed by a combination of personnel from two Family Health Teams and local primary care providers and paramedics.

Muskoka Paramedic Services has also provided drive-through testing and outreach services throughout the region, while many other community providers have assisted with the oversight and support of the Assessment Centre operation.

In a press release, CEO of MAHC Natalie Bubela says as we enter the next phase of pandemic planning, these providers are eager to return to their primary roles in the community to ensure access to primary care for patients.

“As of August 28, the COVID-19 testing sites that have operated in Huntsville and Bracebridge since April are closing as the Family Health Teams are no longer able to provide this service, and the physical spaces for the assessment centres were of a temporary nature, only available until the end of August.”

MAHC is affirming its ongoing support for the assessment centre model as an important community health service that also relieves pressure on Emergency Departments during the pandemic.

“We recognize an Assessment Centre separate from the Emergency Department offers the safest, most suitable environment for seeing patients with infectious symptoms that keeps hospital patients safe and provides a dedicated space with appropriate infection control protocols,” Bubela added.

Starting next Monday, one COVID-19 assessment centre to service all of Muskoka will open in a purposely retrofitted outbuilding adjacent to the helipad at the back of the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital (SMMH) property in Bracebridge at 75 Ann Street.

This change has required significant transition planning to establish a sustainable operation in a single location, including physician scheduling, staffing, and minor renovations that ensure safe and effective operation.

Bubela notes that they appreciate the dedication of the Algonquin and Cottage Country Family Health Teams, primary care providers, Muskoka Paramedic Services, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and several other community providers and groups for their role in operations.

“We look forward to continuing to serve the COVID-19 testing needs of Muskoka and area, and we welcome and appreciate the continued support of a number of the historic partners in the future.”

The Assessment Centre provides COVID-19 testing by appointment only Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Appointments can be made by calling the Assessment Centre line at 1-888-383-7009.

More information can be found here.