The Drive Through

Three weeks ago I booked a blood test at one of the regular blood collection locations in the region – last week, when I arrived the waiting room was full, the hallway was full – at least a two hour wait (several lab technicians were absent due to COVID-19 exposure). My test wasn’t urgent so I went back to my car, cancelled the appointment on my iPhone then booked another for a week later – today. The speediest location where I could book an online appointment (only online/telephone booking is available right now, no walk-in) was at the Dartmouth General Hospital Blood Collection Drive-through.

Today, I remembered to take the requisition paper and my appointment confirmation printout with me when I went to the pool, my appointment was for 11:10. Because I wasn’t sure precisely where I was going, I headed to the DGH right after my aquacise session to give myself time to get lost – in fact, I didn’t have a problem. I took the Mt. Hope exit from the 111 highway; stayed on Mt. Hope until I reached the DGH. The turn into the Drive-through was well marked.

The drive thru saves time because during the COVID-19 pandemic, disinfecting the blood-collection chair between patients takes between five and 10 minutes. (Catherine Buckie) – image from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/drive-thru-blood-testing-dartmouth-1.5733364 (I didn’t think to take a picture of the garage door ahead of me while I waited to enter)

I was greeted by a woman warmly dressed in a parka who directed me to follow the red truck ahead of me, which I did. I reached a booth with a young woman who asked me to put my mask on and to hand her my requisition and appointment information, which I did. She signed me in, then asked me to inch forward and wait at the garage door ahead of me.

It felt like going to the car wash!

I turned off my car, waited for the garage door to open. Started my car, drove forward until I reached a designated spot just before the exit garage door (just like at the car wash), then turned my car off as directed by the signs in front of me.

I didn’t need to get out of my car – I rolled down my window, took off my jacket, pulled my left arm out of my sweater sleeve, handed my blood requisition to the technician who asked for it, stuck my arm out the driver side window. She quickly took a couple of vials of blood.

I was asked by another woman (interesting, the drive-through idea was a woman’s, the facility was staffed by women…) if I’d be willing to answer a few questions: How did I rate the experience 1-5 – I gave it a 10! Would I do this again – absolutely! Would I recommend it to others – you bet!

I was in, and out, in 10 minutes!

Everybody was friendly and efficient.

In the lane next to the blood collection drive-through, was a COVID-19 vaccination drive-through – the line of cars was longer there but I bet the whole thing was reasonably quick as well.

Somebody’s doing some innovating – I applaud them and for sure support their efforts. The initiative needs to be expanded to many locations in the province.

So I’m spreading the word – if you’ve got a drive-through site for blood work or vaccination – use it! If you don’t have either, contact your public health officials and recommend they consider the possibility.

Oh, and by the way, I’ve signed up to build more Rapid Test Kits this coming week. Here in NS a large number of volunteers are doing our best to meet the demand for Rapid Test Kits.

5 thoughts on “The Drive Through

  1. We had drive through in the summer months but in the winter they turn most of them to walk through. The line ups are too long and the idle times crazy. 6 hours in a line up at -35 with no bathroom spots. A LONG TIME. Glad it is working well for your area.

    • That could happen here – I think most people don’t know about it. Besides there are a large number of other blood collection sites which are quite speedy when there’s adequate staff to meet appointments – right now, many technicians are either ill or isolating causing the delays. Things could improve in a couple of weeks.

    • I’ve been thinking about the lines problem – here you have to sign up online for an appointment at a specific time on a specific day. The appointments are limited by the number of staff they have to operate the site so you arrive in time for your appointment. The only way long lines can happen is if staffers are sick, or isolating, and the site is short staffed – that did happen to me at one of the normal blood collections locations but on the whole, our system for diagnostic testing (blood, xray, etc) is on an appointment basis and while that’s infuriating because you sometimes have a rather long wait for an appointment, when you get to your appointment it’s generally clear sailing.

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