Hindsight makes it appear like a canny little bit of entrepreneurial genius, however the fact is, it by no means occurred to Montreal-based nurse Melanie Jade Boulerice that a pandemic may be coming when she began her small, personal nursing service.
“It was not part of the business plan,” she stated.
But a year-and-a-half after launching Nomadic Nurse Agency, she spends a lot of her time driving from shopper to shopper with a trunkful of testing swabs, masks and hand sanitizer.
Boulerice, who additionally works as an emergency room nurse, stated she’s seen a gradual enhance in demand this fall from people who desire a fast COVID-19 check outcome, even when they do not meet the factors for a check by the general public system.
The causes can differ: people about to get elective surgical procedure by the personal system require a destructive check. Travellers, in some cases, additionally want a destructive outcome earlier than leaving, relying on the airline and vacation spot.
She makes use of a Health Canada-approved PCR swab check, the identical one that’s used within the public system, and the outcomes are reported to federal and provincial public health businesses.
In Quebec, in addition to in lots of other provinces, public testing is simply accessible to those that exhibit signs, or who have been in touch with somebody who’s been identified with COVID-19.
In Ontario people who’re planning worldwide journey also can get examined.
Several clinics in Montreal and past provide the service, for about $200 per check. Serological assessments that measure COVID-19 antibodies are additionally accessible.
With the vacations approaching, Boulerice is getting extra calls from people who need to see their family. Some are asking to guide a check prematurely — though she cautions purchasers a destructive outcome is not a positive factor and will not substitute following public health measures.
The rise of personal testing has raised issues concerning the dangers of counting on a destructive check to collect with family members. For advocates of a public health-care system, it has change into one other instance of the inequities caused by pandemic.
A destructive outcome no assure
This week, Quebec turned the primary province to concern tips for the way people can collect, in restricted numbers, over the vacation season.
People are allowed to go to with household over 4 days, from Dec. 24 to Dec. 27. However, they have to keep away from contact with others within the week earlier than and after that interval.
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé stated the general public testing capability will be ramped up over the vacations, given that extra people will possible get contaminated, however he harassed the general public “can’t just get tested to ensure you don’t have COVID.”
To be eligible for a check, it is advisable to both have signs, have been in touch with somebody who has examined positive, or have acquired a name from contact tracers.
WATCH | Don’t depend on a destructive check, Dr. Horacio Arruda warns
Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province’s public health director, added that it was “extremely dangerous” to rely solely on a destructive COVID check as a result of it is potential to be contaminated and not have a viral load ample to be detected.
He urged people to comply with the rules and keep away from contacts earlier than and after the designated four-day interval.
“The thing to do is to be isolated and if you have symptoms, get tested,” he stated. “Don’t rely only on the testing.”
Still, even those that are taking the precaution of isolating previous to seeing household or buddies are contemplating a personal check.
Maegan Timmins, a structural engineer, and her spouse, a healthcare employee, are contemplating paying for a personal COVID-19 check earlier than they meet with her Timmins’s dad and mom.
“I’m willing to pay for it personally,” she stated. “I’m fortunate enough to be able to do so.”
Timmins is conscious the check outcomes aren’t “100 per cent guaranteed,” however considers it a present to herself and her household to have just a little additional assurance.
“For me, it’s tradition to spend Christmas with my mom and my dad,” she stated. “It’s just going to mean the world to be close to them. I haven’t hugged my mom since March before the lockdown, so it’s going to be a special time.”
WATCH | Maegan Timmins plans to get a check for additional reassurance
Public testing nonetheless wants enchancment
Andrew Boozary, govt director of health and social policy at Toronto’s University Health Network, stated the rise of personal testing speaks to the failures of the general public system in creating a extra environment friendly, well-resourced system of testing and speak to tracing.
While he would not fault people for attempting to guard themselves, he worries the development dangers eroding the general public system.
“If we allow the private aspect to take a real hold, we’re going to see more and more inequities,” he stated.
“I think if we don’t double down on our public testing and tracing system, we are not going to get through the pandemic.”
Canada Home Doctors, one other Montreal-based service, has been providing COVID-19 assessments since September.
David Ohayon, the corporate’s supervisor, rejected the concept that personal testing is taking away from public sources. He stated the service makes use of a personal lab.
“If people are doing private testing, it means that they are not doing public testing. It means that they are actually freeing up space in clinics.”
He stated the majority of these asking for a check are travellers and it would not make sense for taxpayers to foot the invoice for “a trip to the Caribbean.”
Last month, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu stated she was wanting into whether or not for-profit clinics that provide COVID-19 assessments are violating the Canada Health Act.
In an announcement Friday, Health Canada stated Canadians who “meet the public health testing and screening criteria” have entry freed from cost, while “private payment for other COVID-19 testing may be appropriate, provided private pay testing does not adversely impact public health testing capacity.”
A spokesperson for Quebec’s Health Ministry, in the meantime, stated the government is “doing everything it can” to make public testing accessible, however that testing for journey would require going by a personal clinic.