October 29th, 2020

Pilot project utilizing Alberta pharmacies for COVID-19 testing


By Lethbridge Herald on July 12, 2020.

Pharmacist Vishal Sukhadiya at The Medicine Shoppe demonstrates a COVID-19 test, following Alberta Health's new pilot project for select pharmacies to start testing for COVID. Herald photo by Greg Bobinec @GBobinecHerald

Greg Bobinec
Lethbridge Herald
gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com
About 20 pharmacies throughout Alberta have been selected for a pilot project to open up COVID-19 testing in pharmacies, and one Lethbridge pharmacy is ready to announce it is open for testing.
The Medicine Shoppe, owned and operated by pharmacist Vishal Sukhadiya, was approached by Alberta Health Services to participate in the pilot project, to not only increase the amount of testing, but to also take some stress off of the Alberta Health testing centres.
“In Alberta, we are one of the leading provinces with the increased amount of tests, and what we want to achieve is we want to increase the amount of tests to around 1,000 tests per day and the community pharmacy is an easily accessible source,” says Sukhadiya. “The reason we want to increase the amount of tests is we want to understand the prevalence of the disease, like how it is prevalent in the different communities around Alberta, and in a long-term strategy, it will also reduce the load from the Alberta Health screening centres.”
Alberta Health Services has not released the full list of pharmacies in the province that have been testing for almost a week now, as they are giving them time to get the cleaning and testing procedures right, before openly announcing they are testing and see large crowds. Sukhadiya says he is comfortable publically announcing they are prepared.
“We started on Tuesday. There are steps and stages because we are just getting used to the tests, but now everyone is comfortable with it and we got an email from Alberta Health that said when everybody is comfortable they will start releasing the other names in the next week. They just wanted to make sure we are comfortable with implementing the procedures,” says Sukhadiya.
“There are many steps involved. We have to make sure that we are adhering to the clinic protocols, as well as once the test is done we want to bring it to the lab in time. Now I am comfortable saying that we are open to do the testing because we are prepared with the procedures.”
The Medicine Shoppe is equipped with mouth swab testing, and is responsible for informing their clients of their test results, negative or positive, but Alberta Health will only contact if the test is positive to make sure proper treatment and care is given.
“If it is a negative, then it is our responsibility to notify the client. If it comes back positive then certainly we will report to the client, but Alberta Health will also be in contact with the client to make sure that the patient is being treated,” says Sukhadiya. “If the client does not have a family doctor, then still Alberta Health has implemented a policy that they would assign a family doctor to the patient.”
Although walk-in testing is available to the public, Sukhadiya asks the public to call before and make a time slot for them to get tested, as cleaning procedures can take a long time, leaving walk-in clients waiting for long periods of time. Testing will also only be done for people experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
“They can call in, it is the easiest way to reduce the amount of time they have to spend here, but they can also walk in, but the only thing there is a lot of cleaning involved after each test and if they just walk in to get tested, there will be a longer wait time,” says Sukhadiya.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, The Medicine Shoppe, 1016A, 20 St. S, is available for testing. To book a time to get tested, call 403-380-3282.
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