A great big shout out to the Caring * Competent * Dedicated professionals of Alberta Health Services.
Saturday morning (May 2, 2020) I had conflicting symptoms. Was it seasonal allergies? Was it seasonal flu? Was it COVID-19? After toughing it out into the afternoon — what else would a German/Scots-Irish/Norwegian mutt do — I called Health Link (811).
My call was answered in less than 2 minutes in spite of being warned that there were high call volumes. The woman who answered my call took my past health history and reviewed my current symptoms. Because my symptoms did not point to a definitive diagnosis she turned over my case to a Health Nurse.
My call was transferred to a Tele-health nurse in less than a minute. The nurse again reviewed my history and current symptoms. Then she made two recommendations. She said, “I am going to look up where you can get a COVID-19 test in Canmore. We will call you at the number you gave us, sometime in the next few hours and advise you where you can go to get a test. And, I want you to go to the Canmore Hospital.” She made it sound that dire consequence would follow if I did not obey her — must have been my Inner Young German Boy hearing her.
I said, “Do you want me to go right now or tomorrow?” She said, “Some time in the next twenty four hours! Do you know where it is?” I said, “Sure! I will go right now.” She said, “Good! We will follow up with you by phone to tell you where you can get your COVID test.”
She hung up. And, I grabbed my cloth mask, put it on, washed my hands with hand sanitizer, and grabbed my car keys. Earlier in the day I had borrowed my daughters “truck” but had not yet returned it to her. I could have walked to the hospital. After all my hotel is just five blocks away. Canmore is a relatively small mountain town home to about 14,000 which swells to maybe 30,000 during a non-COVID summer.
I chose to drive the truck because a frigid Spring wind was blowing down the Eastern skirt of the Rockies. In less than five minutes I was pulling into the hospital parking lot. I walked up the driveway, past the tent that had been erected just outside the hospital entrance a few weeks earlier. The tent had been erected to provide a S0-far-never-needed space to Triage potential COVID patients. I tip toed into the former lobby of the hospital. Saw a security guard sitting on a chair and a wooden table which looked like it had been pirated from the cafeteria.