Northern Ontario COVID-19 Assessment Centres Updated List as of March 23, 2020

As of March 23, 2020- The Ontario Health Coalition has compiled this list from trusted media sources, hospital and public health websites, and by calling hospitals directly to confirm information. Please note things are changing rapidly. Different assessment centres have different criteria for access. Some do testing on site, some do not. This information is correct as of today. Please call or visit the websites of the hospital/assessment centres or public health units indicated below to check current status. As tests become more available they may be able to test more people. New assessment centres are being added daily.

People are wondering how and where to get tested. Many hospitals, Public Health Units and/or the Ontario government have set up assessment centres that are in separated areas of the hospital, or are drive-through, in trailers on hospital property, are offsite. This is to minimize the risk of transmission to other patients. Here is a list of the Assessment Centres in Ontario that we have been able to find and the testing criteria at this moment. Please note: information is changing quickly. Please confirm all information on your local public health unit website if you can. If the Ministry of Health puts together a comprehensive list for the province we will send out the link.

Please note:

  • The Ministry of Health website now has a statement requesting that people not go to assessment centres unless they have been referred by a health care professional. The Ministry is asking people to call their primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. However, some people cannot access a referral. Some assessment centres are allowing walk-ins as noted below. Some are not. Below, you will see that some assessment centres are asking people to call local Public Health Units or Telehealth. It seems clear that if you have a primary care provider (doctor, nurse practitioner, family health team, community health centre or the like) and you can get through, please contact them first.
  • On Friday, March 13 the Ontario government announced only those with the most serious cases would be tested as they are rationing tests. The government of Ontario has directed hospitals to test only those with severe symptoms. The following groups have been prioritized for testing[i]:

o   Symptomatic contacts of confirmed cases, until community transmission is established

o   Individuals admitted to hospital with acute respiratory illness

o   Health care workers with acute respiratory illness

o   Individuals with acute respiratory illness who reside in long term care homes and retirement homes

o   Individuals with acute respiratory illness who reside in other institutions and as directed by local public health officials

o   Health care workers as part of a health care institutional outbreak and as directed by local public health officials

o   First Nations community members living on-reserve with acute respiratory illness

  • Some hospitals are telling patients not to come in directly so that they do not get overwhelmed, they are asking for patients to get a referral. Some hospitals are telling patients that they can go to the assessment centre to be assessed as to whether they meet the criteria for a test. Some assessment centres are doing the tests (by that we mean taking the nasal swabs of patients) and some are not.

We have included information where we can find it, about what the instructions are for each town. Generally information is available on your local public health website under “COVID-19 updates” or similar heading. Here is the list of public health units/locations/contact.

The Ministry of Health in Ontario is asking people who have symptoms of COVID-19 (new dry cough, fever, difficulty breathing, potentially some other flu-like symptoms) to use a self-assessment tool – link is herefirst, then after you have used the self-assessment tool, call:

  • your primary care provider (family doctor, nurse practitioner, community health centre) or
  • call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or
  • call your local Public Health Unit (list is here). (Note: it seems that some Public Health Units are overwhelmed and asking people not to call, but to call their primary care provider first.

If you are seriously sick please don’t let the attempts to ration tests and reduce overload on the system prevent you from getting the care you need. Everyone is simply trying to get the care to those who need it the most first.

Northern Ontario:

Fort Frances: An assessment centre is open in Fort Frances at the Community Counselling Building, 206 Victoria Avenue. The centre is operating seven days a week between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm. Use the Victoria Street entrance and please note on-site directions will be given. The assessment centre sees patients by appointment only. Walk-in appointments are prohibited. Contact Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-000) or the Northwestern Health Unit (1-807-468-7109) to determine if you require an appointment at the assessment centre. If you require an appointment, Telehealth Ontario or the Northwest Health Unit will contact the assessment centre to identify your need for an appointment. The assessment centre will then contact you to schedule an appointment.

Kenora: An assessment centre has been opened at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital at 21 Sylvan Street. The assessment centre sees patients by appointment only. Walk-ins are prohibited. To schedule an appointment, call the Northwestern Health Unit, they can be reached at 807-468-3147 during regular office hours (i.e. Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm). If it is after regular office hours call 807-468-7109.

North Bay: A media report states that an assessment centre is set up outside the emergency department entrance of North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC). We cannot find any specific information. When we called the hospital, the phone message directed patients to call the Public Health Unit for instructions if you feel you have symptoms at 1-800-563-2808 or 705-474-1400. As noted above, please use the Ministry of Health COVID-19 self-assessment tool here.

Rainy River:  An assessment centre is open in Rainy River at the Rainy River Health Centre, 115 Fourth Street. The centre is operating seven days a week between the hours of 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. The entrance to the assessment centre is off Mill Avenue, near the back of Rainy River Health Centre. On-site directions will be given. The assessment centre sees patients by appointment only. Walk-in appointments are prohibited. Contact Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-000) or the Northwestern Health Unit (1-807-468-7109) to determine if you require an appointment at the assessment centre. If you require an appointment, Telehealth Ontario or the Northwest Health Unit will contact the assessment centre to identify your need for an appointment. The assessment centre will then contact you to schedule an appointment.

Sault Ste. Marie: Assessments and testing are being done at the former Kal Tire location at 165 Drive In Road, near the Sault Area Hospital. Patients must call first and be screened by phone. Walk-ins are prohibited. You must have symptoms (fever over 38 degrees Celsius) and/or cough (new or worsening) and have been exposed in the last 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms to be tested. People in the Algoma region experiencing symptoms are encouraged to call the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at 705-759-3434 ext. 7152 between the hours of 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., 7 days per week. People will be assessed by phone and scheduled to go in if they meet the criteria. Individuals with general questions should not call Sault Area Hospital. Instead, please contact Algoma Public Health at (705) 759-5404 (toll-free 1-866-892-0172 ext. 5404) or visit their website.

Sudbury: Assessments and testing are being done a block from the hospital at Health Sciences North Research Institute at 56 Walford Rd in Sudbury. This screening is by appointment only. Walk-ins are prohibited. For an appointment at the assessment centre the following criteria must be met: Fever (over 38 degrees Celsius) and/or cough (new or worsening) and exposure history within the last 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms. For patients who may have difficulty going in for an assessment, arrangements will be made for an assessment at home from an employee of the Greater Sudbury Community Paramedicine Program. An individual who meets the criteria above must call the assessment centre at 705-671-7373 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. rather than going to the hospital’s emergency department. Basic intake information will be taken and a clinician will call them back for the next steps. Anyone with general questions should call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705-522-9200 or toll-free 1-866-522-9200 and not the hospital.

Thunder Bay:  The assessment centre is located in a series of trailers just outside the emergency department at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. It is meant to serve only those directed there for screening by Telehealth Ontario or the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. Patients must have a referral. Walk-ins are prohibited. Anyone concerned they may be experiencing symptoms of the virus should call the health unit at (807) 625-5900 or Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.

Timmins: An assessment centre has been set up in Timmins, located at Intrepid Place, which is located within the Canadian Mental Health Association Cochrane Timiskaming Branch building at 330 Second Ave., Suite 201. The centre is open from Monday to Friday between the hours of 8:30 am and 12:30 pm. The centre is by appointment only and does not provide walk-in service. A referral is required from a family doctor, Public Health or Telehealth. The local health unit can be reached at 705-267-1181 or 1-800-461-1818. The number for Telehealth Ontario is 1-866-797-0000.