One of the most challenging parts of a taking a COVID-19 test is how long it can take to get results.
In coordination with the Campus Wellness, the School of Optometry & Vision Science’s main clinic is currently participating in a provincial pilot program to deliver COVID-19 Panbio rapid antigen tests directly onsite. Results are available within fifteen minutes, instead of the typical 48-hour timeframe for other COVID tests.
Administered by a registered nurse, voluntary testing is available to staff and students for fifteen hours per week. To date, the clinic has performed nearly 600 tests and registered 100% negative results.
Clinic Director Dr. Andre Stanberry says that frequent, ongoing testing has been key to ensuring safety remains a top priority while still efficiently delivering quality patient care.
"The convenience of having rapid testing onsite has made it very easy to do twice weekly,” says Stanberry. “Our participation in the pilot program shows patients that our facility is serious about taking precautions. That, in addition to personal protective equipment (PPE), we’re doing all we can to monitor staff closely so we can keep everyone as safe as possible".
In collaboration with five partners, the Ontario Ministry of Health launched the eight-week pilot program in mid-December. The University of Waterloo is one of three participating universities and the only optometry clinic.
Through the pilot program, the University of Waterloo has coordinated to ensure rapid testing is available to frontline workers across campus. Now at the end of the original eight-week timeframe, there is hope that the Ministry of Health will extend the program to its partners for up to six months.
"For rapid testing to effectively prevent outbreaks, frequency is extremely important,” says Dr. Clark Baldwin, University of Waterloo’s Medical Director. “The optometry clinic has really been a model for the rest of the university on how to utilize rapid testing effectively."
"Dr. Stanberry and his team have really stayed the course in making sure the clinic remains safe for staff, students and patients".