The Lakeland area is home to rapid COVID-19 testing as of late last week.
Bonnyville and St. Paul were chosen as two of five pilot program sites for rapid testing in late November by Alberta Health Services.
Clinical pilots began at the hospital lab in Bonnyville on Friday, while the COVID-19 assessment centre in St. Paul began rapid testing on Monday.
“Bonnyville was chosen as the first site in our clinical pilot because it is a smaller, relatively low volume testing site where patients can be tested and notified of results directly by hospital staff,” a spokesperson for AHS said on Tuesday.
The tests are being used on patients that are within the first seven days of exhibiting symptoms, allowing Alberta Precision Laboratories’ to identify and notify positive cases within hours.
This is meant to reduce the need for patient samples to be transported to centralized labs in Edmonton and Calgary for processing.
AHS said during the clinical pilot phase, all negative results will be sent to the provincial labs for confirmation to ensure no positive cases are missed.
“This will speed up the appropriate care and isolation of patients, which will help reduce the spread of the virus in our communities.”
Two swabs will be collected from each patient.
Alberta Health Services said this pilot project is the final step in Alberta Precision Laboratories’ (APL) evaluation of the accuracy of the rapid testing systems.
“This will inform APL and AHS on how to streamline processes related to patient management, results notifications, and digital record keeping before the tests are deployed widely across the province,” AHS said.
Slave Lake, Edmonton, and Calgary were also selected as pilot sites.