December 10, 2023

Roughly three years after it first opened as a COVID-19 assessment centre, the city’s COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinic will be closing its doors at the end of the month, officials with London Health Sciences Centre announced on Wednesday.

The move comes as a result of lower appointment volumes due to decreased prevalence of COVID-19 through the region, LHSC officials said, noting the centre was operating at 11 per cent capacity as of last month.

The centre, which currently operates out of Victoria Hospital in collaboration with the Middlesex London Ontario Health Team, will move to a Monday-to-Friday schedule as of April 17, operating from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the lead-up to its final day on April 28, LHSC said.

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Those requiring a COVID-19 test or medication, like Paxovid or Remdesivir, after that date are asked to contact their primary care provider or book an appointment at a participating pharmacy.

“Patients who are scheduled for elective surgeries or procedures will be assessed by their LHSC care team and advised if they require a COVID-19 test,” LHSC officials said in a statement.

“Patients who require a COVID-19 test prior to their procedure will receive further instructions from their care team.”

The Victoria Hospital clinic is a continuation of the two COVID-19 assessment centres that opened in the city at the start of the pandemic, previously located at Oakridge Arena and Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre.

The two centres saw more than 229,000 people over the course of 886 days, according to LHSC. The Oakridge Arena assessment centre closed its doors in July 2021, while the Carling Heights centre continued until August 2022 when it moved to Victoria Hospital.

At the time, LHSC officials reported seeing roughly 60 people per day compared with hundreds earlier in the pandemic as a result of provincial changes to testing eligibility.

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In December 2022, the hospital assessment centre was renamed the COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinic as the health-care system grappled with added pressures amid a rise in respiratory illnesses over the winter months.

Open initially to adults, the centre was expanded to pediatric patients in mid-January. As of late February, the centre had assessed roughly 2,100 patients since December, according to LHSC.

In a statement, Jerry Plastino, ambulatory care and pharmacy executive at LHSC, expressed gratitude to the “staff, physicians and community partners who supported this vital service for our community over the past three years.”

According to the Middlesex-London Health Unit, the region recorded 73 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases during the week of April 2 for a total of 2,328 so far this year, an undercount given current eligibility requirements and reduced testing levels overall.

At least five deaths were recorded during the week of April 2, with at least four associated with long-term care homes, for a total of 36 this year, according to MLHU data.

Only 650 COVID-19 tests were recorded in the region that week, the lowest number of the entire pandemic. Nine per cent of tests were positive.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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