Mixed messages on Covid testing

Unlike the long delays at testing stations in Auckland, the Wellsford Coast to Coast has a scheduled drive-through system for taking Covid-19 tests.

Mahurangi residents who want to avoid lengthy delays on the telephone are being encouraged to call their local medical centre if they want to get tested for Covid-19.

At 9.15am today, the Healthline had a queue of 140 callers waiting to get information.

One patient in Matakana said that on the first day of the lockdown she waited two-and-a-half hours for an answer from Healthline and was then told she would need to go to Takapuna to get a test.

“They told me there was no testing in Warkworth or Wellsford and that I would have to drive to Auckland,” she says.

The Healthline website prompts patients to the Auckland District Health Board website which was updated today to include the Wellsford Coast to Coast, as well as Walkworth (sic) Coast to Coast.

But Healthline’s automated system is still advising north Aucklanders that they need to visit Northcote to get a test.

The Matakana resident said she had initially called the Matakana and Warkworth Coast to Coast, which did not answer, before being advised by a friend to call the Wellsford Coast to Coast.

The Wellsford Coast to Coast told her at 8.30am that she would be put on a waitlist to receive a call back to organise a time to have a test. She was told there were 50 other people already on the list awaiting a call back.

She was already on her way to Takapuna at 12.30pm when Coast to Coast called and advised that a slot was available after 3pm.

Meanwhile, Coast to Coast Health Care practices in Warkworth and Wellsford tested 150 patients for Covid-19 yesterday.

Patients who call the Coast to Coast are allocated a time for a test and are instructed to park outside the practice. The nurse then calls or texts the patient and instructs them to drive up to the testing station and stay in the car where they test the patient in the vehicle by inserting a swab in the patient’s nose.

The whole process from arrival to taking the test takes about 15 minutes. Patients are being advised they will receive the results within two to five days.

Tests are also available at the Warkworth Medical Centre for anyone who shows signs of infection. The practice is asking people to ring first and then the patient will be instructed on how the test will be done.

“We’re swabbing people in their cars,” practice manager Sara Lewis says. “We were testing very low numbers until we went back into Level 3, but understandably, this has changed. “People are feeling anxious and we are happy to do the tests on request.”

The Kowhai Surgery is also doing tests in Warkworth, but mainly for registered patients. “Our capacity is limited by the number of test kits available,” a spokesperson said.

Anyone who could not be tested was being referred to the Wellsford testing clinic.

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