My Covid-19 Test

- jim Young 

“The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat.” - Confucius

Last week I underwent my first test for Covid-19.

I had no reason to believe I had been infected, however a prospective employer for a one-day contract job required the testing be done to protect them against any liability.

Calling the North Bay Regional Centre on Monday I was pleased to learn I could make an appointment to have the testing done the next morning at 9:00 am. The job I had been hired for was just 3 days later.

However, I was advised that the results from my test would not be available for 2 - 6 business days.

My employer was not concerned. She was confident that should my results be positive, I would be notified much earlier. She further speculated the extra time was required just to update the website where my results would be available.

The drive-through testing option seemed like the best choice for me. Not only was it more convenient, the advantages of not having to risk the spread of or exposure to Covid-19 by wandering the halls of the hospital seemed obvious.

I arrived ahead of schedule as is my habit and a fully protected medical professional greeted me at my car to begin the testing.

The long swab was inserted into my nose reaching to the furthest wall of my nasal cavity, a distance much further than I had anticipated it would be.

My eyes watered involuntarily. 

“That was unpleasant,” I remarked. 

I then asked the technician who performed the swab if there had not been other less intrusive tests recently developed.

“I think there are,” he advised me. “But the hospital has purchased over 20,000 swabs so we won’t likely be switching testing methods for a while.”

His answer made perfect sense to me. “Waste not, want not,” my grandmother had often preached.

“Your test results will be available online,” I was advised as he handed me a pamphlet with all the details. “The standard time is 2 to 6 business days, but realistically speaking, with the current backlog, you should expect to get your results in about 3 business days.”

Beginning the following day I began to diligently check the Covid-19 website to see if my test results were ready. 

Two business days later, I completed the task I had been hired under contract to do.

Three business days later, the website was still returning the same “test results not yet available” message.

Four business days later, five business days later I received the same message.

Then, on the 6th business day (double the quoted “realistic” time frame) I received a different message when I signed into the Covid-19 website.

“Results Unavailable on This Site” and I was advised I would have to “contact the clinician who ordered your test or your primary care provider.”

The problem was, I had requested the Covid-19 testing myself. There was no clinician or primary care provider involved. My family doctor’s practice is three hours away and he was not even aware I had requested the testing. 

So I called the phone number on the pamphlet and explained the situation on their voicemail. Finally, during a live conversation I was told they could not explain why the website could not report my results nor were they able to access them to provide them to me verbally.

All they could do was provide me with another phone number to call to get my results.

After explaining my situation once again, I was advised I could pick up my results at their office during regular business hours. Their office is an hour and a half away.

I asked if they could email or even send a hard copy to me via Canada Post but they don’t offer either of those services. I have to make the drive if I require a hard copy of my test results.

“In the meantime, may I get my results verbally over the phone?” I inquired.

“Yes you may. We’ll have to look up your reports and get back to you.” 

Wishing to avoid another episode of telephone tag (we have no cell service where I live) I asked when I might expect the call back.

“Anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 days,” was my reply.

“If I’m not available when you call back can you leave a message with my results in my voice mail?”

I was advised that due to confidentiality laws, they could not. That seemed a little odd to me. Somehow they felt that their website, that was already not working correctly, was more secure than my voicemail was. My wife and I are the only ones with access to our voice mail. 

I offered to provide them with a waiver to release them of any liability that might be incurred by leaving a voice mail message but to no avail.

Really? Because if the results were negative to my Covid-19 testing, I wouldn’t care who knew.

And if they were positive - I would want everyone to know; my family, my friends, my community so that they might take steps to test and protect themselves against infection that I might have exposed them to.

In fact, THAT was the very point of this exercise! My work has been completed so if I am Covid-19 positive the best possible outcome now is to let EVERYONE that was on my job site that day know, they too may have been exposed.

Of course there is no room for discussing logic with government and health officials in circumstances such as these.

Later today I finally received verbal confirmation that I tested negative for Covid-19 so it all becomes a moot point now anyway. Unless of course I contracted Covid-19 the day after I was tested and the day before I showed up for my work assignment.

In the meantime, had I had a real concern that I had been exposed to Covid-19 when I first arranged for testing, I would be well over half way through my Quarantine period anyway and would soon know one way or the other without even being tested.

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