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Drive-thru testing centre an Ottawa COVID-19 success story

Drive-thru COVID-19 testing centre

Sixteen-year-old Harrison (in the grey T-shirt) received one of the more than 73,000 COVID-19 tests performed at the Coventry Road drive-thru testing centre during its 13 months of service.

Until last year, drive-thrus were almost exclusively used for providing efficient service in the fast food, coffee and banking industries. When the pandemic hit, they became an ideal venue for providing efficient community testing. With December 15 marking the one-year anniversary of Ottawa’s first COVID-19 vaccinations, The Ottawa Hospital would like to thank the frontline workers and community partners who made our drive-thru testing centre a major success in those early days of uncertainty.

The Coventry Road drive-thru testing centre opened on September 4, 2020 as a partnership between The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa Public Health and the City of Ottawa. During the winter, the site was relocated to the parking garages at City Hall and the National Arts Centre.

The testing centre finally closed in October 2021 after 13 months of service. In that time, it became one of the most cost-effective testing centres in Ontario. Over the course of 407 days, more than 73,000 tests were completed. Its busiest day was October 10, 2020, with nearly 600 tests.

Thanks to an extremely dedicated team, the site was open almost year round, with only one planned day off for Christmas. However, the site was partially or fully closed for 14 days due to logistics issues and weather. In addition to snow squalls and sleet storms, the team contended with stalled cars, flooding and even windswept portable toilets!

“Despite these challenges, our team showed up every day to provide all patients with the exceptional service and compassion we would want for our own loved ones.”

– John Trickett, Director of Community Based Testing

Onsite leaders for this project were Kevin Thomas, Cassie Mathews, Joselyn Banks, Michele Armstrong and Lyse Huneault.

The team received daily medical oversight care of Dr. Ken Farion and Dr. John Brewer. Patient-level support was provided by Melissa Brett’s results management team. Frontline staff members each received a Tim Hortons gift card from Dr. Brewer and celebrated the end of this memorable era with a sponsored lunch.

The centre would also not have been possible without our dedicated community partners. In fact, more than one dozen partners came together to contribute to this great cause.

On behalf of all members of the Ottawa community, thank you again to everyone who helped make the drive-thru testing centre such an incredible success.  

Quick Facts

  • 73,064 tests were completed in 407 days.  
  • On October 10, 2020, the team hosted 587 patients – the site’s one-day record.
  • The centre was partially or fully closed for only 14 days, plus one planned closure for Christmas.

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