Care providers can now access rapid testing kits in B.C.
Recently released guidelines prepared by the BC Centre for Disease Control on rapid COVID-19 point of care (POC) testing confirm that our province’s seniors care providers finally have access to over 1 million testing kits purchased last fall by the federal government. Rapid antigen testing is considered to be highly accurate and adds an invaluable layer of safety, especially in care homes where vulnerable populations live.
BCCPA have been vocal proponents of providing access to the kits since the time they first arrived in B.C. and were promptly put into storage. In early December, a rapid testing pilot was launched in Vancouver Coastal Health in partnership with Providence Health. In recent weeks, several long-term care and assisted living sites have been selected for the first rapid testing program in Fraser Health. BCCPA has also reached out to the other health authorities, with only Northern Health confirming an interest in beginning a rapid testing program for non-government operated care homes.
How to get started?
With new guidelines now available, organizations interested in using rapid tests for screening individuals can email RapidPOCTeam@phsa.ca for an intake assessment.
Organizations interested in the Rapid COVID-19 POC tests will be required to complete an agreement with the Provincial Health Services Authority.
What are the requirements?
Industries and organizations approved to use publicly funded POC test kits for screening programs must demonstrate an ability to meet provincial requirements for screening sites. These include:
- Appropriate infection, prevention and control practices
- Identification of local Medical Health Officer (MHO) or designate at local health authority, for mandatory reporting of positive COVID-19 POC results
- Commitment to reporting positive results electronically to local Medical Health Officers within agreed upon timelines
- Establish clinical pathways for confirmatory testing for all positive results, and referral to care
- Appropriately trained staff and regular proficiency testing training
- Comply with quality and safety procedures and protocols
- Comply with regional and provincial documentation and reporting requirements including utilization.
To learn about accreditation and the quality assurance process for point of care testing and requirements to report positive cases to public health, refer to the Provincial Health Officer letter on Point of Care Testing.