Updated on: March 28, 2020
A message from our President: Supporting our communities through COVID-19
As the world changes every day with the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), our thoughts have been with those affected by the virus and the health care workers who are continuing to serve at the frontlines of this pandemic. Like many, we want to do our part to help, and that’s why we are stepping up as much as we can to be part of the solution.
You rely upon us to provide essential diagnostic laboratory testing and we want to ensure that you continue to have access to these services.
As we monitor the COVID-19 situation closely, we’re taking many steps to do our part in responding to the public health crisis while continuing to meet your needs, all while supporting the safety and well-being of our employees and customers.
Providing COVID-19 laboratory testing
One way we are doing our part is by starting laboratory testing for COVID-19, adding critical testing capacity in coordination with our government partners. Where possible, we are redeploying non-essential testing capacity to support this urgent public health need. Working with government and public health officials, we are contributing more than 1,000 samples a day of testing capacity in Ontario and 600 a day in British Columbia. We will expand upon this as we are able to in the coming days.
Please note, we are not testing for COVID-19 at our Patient Service Centres. For information about how to access COVID-19 testing, please start by visiting local provincial self-assessments tools online (see links below) to determine if you require testing and follow the directions provided.
Reducing hours and temporary closures at our Patient Service Centres
To support our efforts to add as much capacity as possible to test for COVID-19 and to maintain service over the next few months with a global shortage of protective equipment for our frontline employees, we are both adjusting hours and temporarily closing a portion of our Patient Service Centres (PSCs).
Some locations have already temporarily closed or adjusted their hours, and more will do so in the next few days, as required. We encourage you to visit locations.lifelabs.com for the most up-to-date information on hours of service and temporary closures. If your regular location is temporarily closed, please check the Location Finder for the closest alternative LifeLabs location.
Encouraging social distancing at our Patient Service Centres by using virtual services
If you’re visiting any of our locations, we strongly encourage you to please use our Appointment Booking or virtual check-in app – Save My Spot – so that you can limit your time at our locations in the global effort to practice social distancing. In doing so, you will help to limit walk-in traffic and contribute to our efforts in protecting the health and safety of our customers and employees. We are actively monitoring our practices on walk-in traffic during this period and will communicate any further changes to our practices to continue to promote social distancing.
Keeping our customers and employees safe
Following advice and recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), our customer serving employees will continue to wear personal protective equipment for droplet precautions, which includes eye protection, masks, gloves and gowns. These measures protect both our customers and employees, and allow us to continue to provide you with lab services.
Supporting our employees
As the coronavirus continues to have a major impact in our society, we have committed to supporting employees who are directed to self-isolate by our Health and Safety team. We are encouraging social distancing by implementing remote working for employees who are able to do so.
Supporting virtual consultations for health care providers
To help ensure that Canadians are still able to access medical care throughout the pandemic, many health care providers are offering virtual consultations through video and phone. As a trusted health care partner, LifeLabs offers a variety of solutions that support required medical testing stemming from virtual consultations.
Through these unprecedented times, I would like to thank you for your understanding and patience as we ensure the necessary precautions are in place to protect both you and our employees.
On behalf of all of LifeLabs, I want to extend my utmost appreciation and admiration to all of the doctors, nurses, volunteers, and other medical staff, including our very own frontline employees – our phlebotomists in the PSCs and our mobile phlebotomists (visiting private homes, long-term care homes, etc.), our couriers, and our lab employees – all who are working tirelessly in the face of this pandemic.
We recognize that this is a challenging situation that is changing on a daily basis. Rest assured that we are doing everything we can to do our part in supporting the health care system and the communities we serve.
If you have any questions or concerns, please visit www.lifelabs.com for more information.
From our LifeLabs family to yours, stay safe and healthy.
President and CEO
To focus our resources on supporting the health care system where it is needed most and to ensure we can maintain service over the next several months with a global shortage of protective equipment for our frontline employees, we are both adjusting hours and temporarily closing a portion of our Patient Service Centres (PSCs).
Some locations have already adjusted their hours, and more will temporarily close or reduce hours in the next few days. We encourage you to visit locations.lifelabs.com for the most up-to-date information on hours of service and temporary closures, and to find an alternative LifeLabs location closest to you.
We will actively assess this as the situation continues to evolve, but we will do our best to ensure the continuity of service to our customers.
We are actively monitoring our practices on walk-in traffic during this period and will communicate any further changes to our practices to continue to promote social distancing.
Following advice and recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), our PSC employees will continue to wear personal protective equipment for droplet precautions, which includes eye protection, masks, gloves and gowns. These measures protect both our customers and employees, and allow us to continue to provide you with lab services.
We can provide the following services at most of our patient service centres.
- Routine blood collection
Some tests we normally provide to patients are aerosol generating and therefore cannot be provided:
- Breath tests
- Buccal swabs
Lastly, as we want to limit the time customers have to spend in our waiting rooms, we cannot provide the following:
- Tolerance Testing (Glucose and Lactose)
If you’re visiting any of our locations, we strongly encourage you to please use our Appointment Booking or virtual check in app – Save My Spot – so that you can limit your time at our locations in our global effort to practice social distancing. In doing so, you will help to limit walk-in traffic and contribute to our efforts in protecting the health and safety of our customers and employees. We are actively monitoring our practices on walk-in traffic during this period and will communicate any further changes to our practices to continue to promote social distancing.
Our employees are trained to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when there is an escalated risk of transmission for any illness, including the common cold and flu. With the recent confirmation of community transmission, we are asking our employees to apply universal precautions and wear PPE for all patients.
Any precautions we have implemented at our facilities are also applied to our mobile units.
We understand social media is a valuable tool for quickly sharing information with others; however, it is very difficult to vet and filter that information for accuracy.
There have been numerous false reports circulating on social media. For the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website.
This novel virus belongs to the family of coronaviruses. Coronaviruses form a large family of viruses, and the illnesses they cause can range from common cold to more severe diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Symptoms for the Novel Coronavirus have included:
- cough; and
- difficulty breathing.
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, avoid contact with others and contact your local public health unit.
Please contact your local public health unit for further assessment and consultation. As this situation continues to change rapidly, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website (PHAC) for the most up-to-date information on cases and actions implemented for protection.
We are proactively screening all customers at our Patient Service Centres. You may notice a line-up or delay before entering as employees ask customers about their travel history, whether they’re experiencing any respiratory symptoms and their contact with others.
If a customer screens without risk, they will be able to enter the waiting room. If they meet the current case definition for COVID-19, employees will begin a special infection-control protocol including:
- Immediately providing the customer with a mask
- Isolating them from other patients
- Serving the patient as quickly as possible; and
- Decontaminating the space after the patient has left.
With this process, we are also piloting a new process to limit the number of customers we serve at any one time by registering customers at the entrance and asking customers to wait outside if we are not able to provide immediate service to further protect customers and staff.
If a customer is immunocompromised or in a vulnerable population, we are encouraging individuals to utilize our Appointment Booking and Save My Spot app when planning a visit so they can limit the time spent at our locations.
In our screening process, a customer can disclose that they are immunocompromised or otherwise in a vulnerable population. Several proactive actions have been put into place to support the safety and well-being of these customers. We will provide these customers with a mask, isolate them from any other customers, and expedite service.
The Public Health Agency of Canada defines vulnerable patients related to COVID-19 as anyone who is:
- An older adult
- At risk due to underlying medical conditions (e.g. heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer)
- At risk due to a compromised immune system from a medical condition or treatment (e.g. chemotherapy)
More information is available on the Canada website.