December 10, 2023

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COVID-19 Assessment Centres at hospitals in Windsor and Leamington will close next month as health officials mark “another milestone” in the fight against the virus.

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The assessment centres at Windsor Regional Hospital and Erie Shores HealthCare will close April 1.

“It served an amazing purpose,” said Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj. “The staff that staffed if for years has been phenomenal. It’s seen tens of thousands of people. But being able to close it due to lack of demand is a positive thing. If for some reason we need to revisit it in the fall or winter coming up, then we’ll revisit it.”

The hospitals said the decision follows a significant drop in the number of patients accessing the centres as COVID-19 numbers continue to decline. Musyj said the province will soon stop funding the two assessment centres, which are among the last few hospital-run ones in Ontario.

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Both centres opened in March 2020 as the hospitals tried to relieve pressure on emergency departments. About 191,000 patients went through the centre at Windsor Regional Hospital. The facility in Leamington treated almost 64,000 people.

“The decision to close the clinics is based on a significant decrease in the number of patients seeking treatment,” said Kristin Kennedy, CEO of Erie shores HealthCare. “It is important to note that COVID is still prevalent in our community, and we urge anyone who feels unwell to continue taking precautions to help limit the spread of respiratory ailments.”

At the height of demand in the spring of 2021, Musyj said more than 200 people a day visited just the Windsor assessment centre. The current demand is no more than 15 people daily, he said.

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In 2021, he said the hospitals were the “only game in town” doing assessments. But local Family Health Teams, nurse practitioner clinics, primary health providers, and walk-in and urgent care clinics have since reopened and are seeing patients again.

“Not to minimize the 15 people a day from the community,” said Musyj. “There are definitely far more options than us right now.”

A list of alternatives to the emergency department is available on the Windsor Regional Hospital website.

For details about up-to-date testing recommendations and COVID-19 testing locations, or to find information about antiviral treatments, go to the provincial government’s website.

The hospitals said an appropriate health-care provider such as a pharmacist will determine if a patient qualifies for Paxlovid, the oral antiviral treatment. If the patient does qualify, a health care provider must review the person’s current medications to determine if any changes are needed to safely take Paxlovid.

Lab work to review liver and kidney function might also be necessary prior to being approved for treatment.

Hospital officials also stressed that anyone who develops severe symptoms requiring medical attention, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of consciousness, or confusion, should call 911 or go to the emergency department.

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