New provincial testing guidelines could ease RVH stresses

Over 570 patients visited the drive-thru assessment centre on Wednesday alone

The drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) has seen increased demand over the past few weeks, but a new edict from Queen’s Park may help ease that tension.

On Thursday, Premier Doug Ford announced the province would focus on testing only those with at least one COVID-19 symptom. This impacts the assessment centre at RVH which has until now focused on those who are asymptomatic.

Elective surgeries expected to resume today at RVH
Book an appointment before heading to the RVH Clinic C drive-thru assessment centre

Stella Johnson is the Operations Director for RVH’s emergency department, Intensive Care Unit, and COVID clinics, and says a plan is in the works for those without symptoms. “We will be having conversations over the weekend, until putting in place an approach that is fair and equitable for both patients that have made appointments as well as patients that choose to present on the same day of their appointments,” she told Barrie 360 over the phone.

“We will continue to see patients who have that runny nose, that sore throat, that light temperature of 37.8 or those small children who are nasal congested or have seen some nausea and vomiting, that does not require more urgent care,” she added.

Johnson says the assessment centre has seen a significant uptick in demand in just the past few days. “Friday, September 18, we saw over 450 patients for the first time since opening its doors. And that volume has continued to increase, with us seeing over 570 patients on Wednesday of this week, as our busiest day so far.”


While the new testing guidelines from the province may help ease the stress at RVH a bit, what will really help, says Johnson, is a change of scenery. “The advantages of being able to move the amount of traffic that we have seen in the last 10 days from the 201 Georgian Dr. campus will be a significant win for the community for our staff, and for the ability to maintain safe operations here have a very busy acute care hospital in our community,” she said of a tentatively approved plan to establish an assessment centre at the former Barrie Police Service headquarters on Sperling Drive.

While longer wait times are expected to persist regardless, Johnson strongly suggests booking an appointment online before attending the RVH clinic.