Two children wait in the new paediatric ed covid-19 assessment zone before a nurse examines them
Children wait to be tested and assessed at Michael Garron Hospital's Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone.

Michael Garron Hospital opens Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone to support safe return to school

Starting Wednesday, Sept. 1, Michael Garron Hospital's (MGH) Paediatric Emergency Department (ED) COVID-19 Assessment Zone is offering a family-friendly space for COVID-19 testing and expedited paediatric ED assessments for symptomatic children and families. 

The Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone is part of a broader back-to-school COVID-19 support plan MGH is implementing to help ensure a safe return to in-person learning for local children, families, teachers and administrative staff. The goal of MGH’s Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone is to offer a safe, supportive and dedicated space for symptomatic children and families to be tested and assessed for COVID-19 as students prepare to go back to school. This helps MGH quickly find positive cases before COVID-19 can spread and cause additional exposures to families or other staff and children in schools and child care centres.

“We understand the COVID-19 testing and assessment experience can be stressful for families," says Dr. Kyle Vojdani, Chief of the Emergency Department at MGH. "The Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone will help ensure children, youth and families have the support they need so we can detect positive cases of COVID-19 as early as possible to prevent further infections and transmission."

Children must be at least four months old and under 18 years of age to use the space. By offering expedited paediatric ED assessments for symptomatic children and families, the space also helps divert patients from the ED to help reduce wait times for all demographics. 

A nurse stands outside of the paediatric ed covid-19 assessment zone holding a clipboard
A nurse stands outside MGH's Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone, which offers testing and assessments to symptomatic families.

Children who visit MGH's Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone receive an oral-nasal testThe oral-nasal test involves rubbing the inside of the mouth and the front of the nose with a swab for less than five seconds. It is less invasive than the nasopharyngeal (NP) swab that is commonly used for COVID-19 tests. This helps increase the likelihood that children and youth will have pleasant testing experiences. The oral-nasal test is a laboratory-validated polymerase chain reaction test (PCR), not a rapid antigen test. This means a second test is not needed to confirm a positive result. Test results should be available online within 24 to 72 hours.

Children who visit MGH's general COVID-19 Assessment Centre and COVID-19 Outreach Centres in East Toronto also receive an oral-nasal test. Child-friendly testing and assessments are available at all COVID-19 Outreach Centres.

MGH’s Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone previously operated from September 2020 to June 2021. MGH re-opened the space on Sept. 1, 2021 to prepare for an expected increased demand for testing and assessments amid back-to-school and a fourth wave of the pandemic.

MGH has plans to expand the zone into a dedicated Paediatric ED that will offer a family-friendly space for children in East Toronto to receive evidence-based paediatric care. The space is being designed with input from local children and families. It is expected to launch in fall 2021.

In addition to the new Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone, MGH offers a Virtual Emergency Department (ED) service where patients, including children and youth, can book an appointment to see one of our ED physicians virtually.

"Our Virtual ED continues to accept appointments for patients, including children, experiencing urgent, non-life-threatening medical problems," says Dr. Vojdani. "This further helps reduce wait times in our ED while helping to ensure patients in East Toronto are able to receive timely, quality care."

MGH encourages all students and families to get tested if they’re experiencing symptoms or think they have been exposed to COVID-19. This helps protect children, families and our community from the virus. Getting vaccinated if you’re eligible is another way we can protect ourselves from COVID-19. 

The Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. by appointment. The entrance is located off of Mortimer Avenue to the immediate right of the ED entrance. It is separate from the general MGH COVID-19 Assessment Centre. Learn more or book an appointment at tehn.ca/AssessmentCentre.

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