Plan in the works to move current RVH COVID-19 assessment centre to former Barrie police headquarters

Screening at the drive-thru site at RVH cannot be done in the colder months

With demand growing to be tested for COVID-19 and colder days in the months ahead, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre has been scouting for another location to operate its assessment centre.

Barrie City Council on Monday approved the request from the hospital to shift the assessment centre to 29 Sperling Drive, the former police headquarters, for a period of possibly up to 18 months.

The centre at RVH is a drive-thru and exposed to the elements.

Stella Johnson, operations director of the COVID-19 assessment centre at RVH, hopes a pop-up location at the Sperling site can open shortly, with a full move in October or November.

The former police station has a sally port which will not leave staff exposed to the winter conditions, and the public will be able to drive in and get tested. Johnson compared it to taking your car in for an oil change.

The City said the sale of the former police station will be put on hold while the assessment centre is there.

There were 576 people swabbed at the RVH clinic on Monday, which is for asymptomatic individuals. The wait to be tested can be anywhere from three to five hours, and the hospital is in the process of ordering porta-potties for people waiting in line.

The clinic will now be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to deal with the high volume.

The other assessment centre on Huronia Road is for individuals with COVID-19 symptoms.

The City said the popularity of the RVH testing site has negatively impacted access to RVH and has caused significant line ups that are extending out to Georgian Drive.