The Cassellholme long term care facility is hoping to help its patients by offering free COVID-19 testing on a regular basis for visiting family members.

The first testing happened on July 16, with more available to family members every two weeks.

Jillian Duchesne, who works with Residence Services at Cassellholme, says offering testing to families was an easy decision.

“In the beginning, you needed to have a COVID test to visit outside. Now, you don’t need a COVID test to visit outside but you need one to visit inside. So, we were like you know what… let’s help out our family members, and let’s drive-thru testing every two weeks,” she said.

Provincial health guidelines state that to visit a long term care home indoors, the visitor must have a record of a negative COVID-19 test within the past two weeks. Duchesne says that the family members of patients are grateful that Cassellholme has alleviated some of the legwork.

“They’re very thankful for this opportunity. It’s much easier, especially for people who just live around the corner who would normally walk to visit their loved ones, they can just walk over,” Duchesne explained.

Even though Cassellholme is beginning to regain some normalcy, Duchesne says that protocols have made it difficult for some.

“It’s challenging with the restrictions from the government. It’s only 30 minutes a visit. So, people who want to come in […] they don’t feel like 30 minutes is long enough,” she said.

Though the protocols may be limiting, Duchesne says that being able to bring visitors in has an infectious effect on the Cassellholme staff.

“We just started bringing [patients’] spouses in just so we could get a grasp on everything. As soon as I would walk a spouse up to a unit the staff [exclaimed] ‘oh my goodness!’,” Duchesne cheerfully recalled.

Casellholme’s next testing drive will be on July 30 from 10 am to 1 pm. Duchesne says that many of the tests will be on returning family members from the last drive.