New in-person RSV rapid testing service in Winnipeg
Posted January 8, 2023 4:14 pm.
Last Updated January 8, 2023 5:36 pm.
A new in-person RSV rapid testing service is now being offered in Winnipeg to help combat rising wait times in hospitals.
The recent surge in RSV cases in children across Canada has been overwhelming emergency rooms. RSV is a common respiratory virus that causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract.
Testing for RSV is done in hospitals, but due to the high demand, ERs will not be testing unless patients are admitted to hospital with a serious case.
“Right now people can’t get it. They don’t have a doctor. They can’t go to the ER or choose not to go to the ER and wait. The ERs can’t support everybody with everything,” said Dr. Samuel Gutman, the president and chief medical officer of Rockdoc – the company supplying the new rapid tests.
“If we provide information to Canadians, they can make good choices.”
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Beginning Monday, the new in-person testing service gives people the option of having same-day virtual appointments with a licensed physician in Winnipeg.
“We’ve been able to identify a testing technology that has been in existence for a long time,” said Gutman, who is also a former ER doctor. “It is accurate but just not available to people.
“So we were able to access it and we want to offer it to Canadians and give people the opportunity to gather the information and then make the choices they need to make as far as how they will access the health-care system that we all know is under strain.”
Gutman says financial assistance will be provided to those who cannot afford the $60 fee for the tests. He adds the process is simple.
“People can come in, they can book online,” he explained. “They’re in and out in 10 minutes. So they’re not in a waiting crowded room exposing each other to additional disease. They come in, get the test, get the result, and then get advice and then it is up to them to decide. Do they want to access a physician? Do they want to go to the ER?”
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A spokesperson for Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre children’s hospital says the pediatric intensive care unit at the hospital continues to see high patient numbers that are being largely driven by several respiratory illnesses.
An average of 130 patients per day visited the children’s emergency department in December, down from the record pace of November, when 170 patients visited per day.
In the first week of January, an average of 133 patients per day have visited the children’s emergency department.
Gutman says it’s unknown if RSV cases will worsen in the next few months.
“My personal ‘guesstimate’ is that it will continue on for a few months, and then as it usually does, it will reduce over the spring and summer,” he said. “Hopefully in the years ahead, we will be better ready to deal with it from an immunological perspective.”