Many frustrated Red Deerians — including seniors with mobility problems — are waiting hours in the hot sun to get their blood work done at DynaLIFE laboratories.
Wednesday was the third day in a row that Lanny Wilson had lined up on the cement sidewalk outside the laboratory.
“I came yesterday and the day before, but I can’t stand that long,” said the local woman, who has knee troubles and uses a cane for stability.
There was no outdoor seating available, although some people were waiting in their cars for a phone call to alert them to when it’s their turn to come in.
The soonest lab appointment given out was July 9, and Wilson said she needs blood work taken before her MRI, so she felt she had no choice other than to stand in line for hours.
According to people in the lineup, those with booked appointments are waiting from 1.5 to three hours to get in, while those without appointments are waiting up to five hours.
One man, who arrived at DynaLIFE at 9:05 a.m., was still waiting to get in at 12:40 p.m.
“I was told there were 12 people ahead of me an hour and 40 minutes ago,” said Jeremy, who declined to give his last name, fearing repercussions.
Most people in the lineup understood the hold up: DynaLIFE has a very small indoor waiting room, and can now only take half as many patients at a time because of the need for social distancing.
The demand for tests has, meanwhile, grown since Red Deer hospital closed its laboratory due to COVID-19 reduction measures.
Diane Armstrong said she has to get her blood work done every three months. Even though she had an appointment on Wednesday, she still waited more than an hour to get in.
People in the lineup expressed frustration that better provisions had not been made for people in this situation.
“There needs to be better organization,” said Ryan, who felt DynaLIFE should be better at estimating how long it will take to get in, so that people who face an hour or more wait can go home and then come back.
Kate Fawcett, client relations specialist for DynaLIFE, said the concern is that some people will return late, or will miss their appointed time — and then what?
Laboratory workers “are caught between a rock and a hard place,” she said.
Part of the problem is that physicians are still sending people for non-urgent blood work, even though they were asked not to, “and ethically, we can’t send anybody away,” said Fawcett.
She noted urgent cases are being prioritized at the lab, which unfortunately, means some people are having to wait longer.
“It’s tough, but health-care providers are under the strictest guidelines for the longest time,” when it comes to preventing the viral spread, she added.
If the hospital lab remains closed for the rest of the year, Fawcett wonders what it will be like for people to wait in the cold this fall and winter?
Meanwhile, DynaLIFE is considering putting a notice on its website, asking people who show up to prepare for the weather.
Fawcett said they could consider bringing a lawn chair, umbrella, water or whatever other provisions will help them endure the long wait.
Alberta Health Services has stated it’s looking into the situation.