Patrons express frustration over wait for test results
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — With COVID-19 testing still a mandatory requirement for inter-island travel from Nassau, many residents are expressing concern over the cost of testing and the time frame to get results back.
Several local healthcare facilities have now begun offering COVID-19 tests.
Among them are Doctor’s Hospital, which introduced same-day PCR COVID-19 testing – with 24-hour turnaround – on July 6.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that the health facility, in coordination with the government, would decrease the cost of the test.
Doctor’s Hospital advised in a statement that it has agreed to absorb a reduced price for the tests when requested for the purpose of domestic travel.
The new price will be reduced to $134.30 (VAT included) which is a marked decrease from the regular $224 cost.
Applicants will be required to complete a digital form online and show proof of travel prior to receiving a travel card indicating their test status.
“Please note that the pricing for non-domestic travel-related testing is under review and may be subsequently adjusted to provide additional accommodations to Bahamians,” the facility advised.
While the prime minister announced a range of eased restrictions to the latest emergency orders, individuals traveling from Nassau to any other island are still required to have a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine for 14-days.
Once registered and paid, individuals are advised to utilize the drive-through service at Doctor’s Hospital Blake Road.
Test results are expected to be sent via email within 24-hours and if a person tests positive, they will be contacted by the Ministry of Health officials with further instructions.
However, some people who have utilized the service have complained about delayed turnover times to receive results back – given the advertised 24-hour period – and experiences with lost samples.
Jigria Dean said she booked appointments with the facility on September 1 for her and her niece, to accommodate travel arrangements made to Abaco for the next day, September 2.
Dean said they followed the instructions, went through the drive-through process, and was advised that their results would be sent within the 24-hour period.
She noted however that while her niece received her results the next day, which came back as negative, she did not receive her results.
They were scheduled to travel on a 6pm charter to Abaco.
She said she called the facility to inquire about the matter but was told that her results were still pending, forcing her to cancel her travel plans and rebook for September 4.
Dean said she decided to drive down to the facility on September 3, with hopes of being able to receive her diagnosis allowing her to travel.
She said this was fruitless after nearly two hours and she left with no answers.
When she arrived home, she said she called the lab to continue her inquiries and was informed by an employee that their machine that provided results was not working.
Dean said she was advised to get a refund – which takes five to 10 days – and retake the test.
“At this point, I am frustrated as I had to re-arrange travel plans, re-take a test and not sure when the machine is up,” she said.
“…All weekend I was upset and disappointed.”
The Abaco native said she decided to retake the test on September 7 and rebooked her plane ticket for travel on September 9, anticipating that this time her results would ready.
Once again, she said she did not receive her results within the advertised 24-hours.
“The hospital is advertising to deliver a service within 24-hours and not making good on their services.”
She said this time, she followed up by email, detailing her “horrific experience”.
Dean said she was contacted by four employees who expressed their apologies for the experience and advised that a doctor had to give her results.
She ultimately tested positive.
She however insisted that this could not be true, given that she follows protocols, and her niece, who she shares a home with, tested negative.
She questioned the validity of the tests and the results and insisted that she be retested.
Dean described the ordeal as “frustrating and disappointing” noting that she has not received her first refund back or reconciliation over the issue to date.
Doctor’s Hospital CEO Dr. Charles Sealy told Eyewitness News that he could not provide comment on the concerns being raised by some patrons.
He noted however that the institution continues to bolster its ability to respond to the COVID-19 spread.
“We have been an adequate job in my estimation when you consider the world over, test results are coming within seven to 10 days,” Sealy said.
“In the Commonwealth of The Bahamas we are comfortable being able to respond within 24-hours and where there may be occasions and there are a number of instances why that could happen separate and apart from being inundated, where it’s beyond 24-hours, it’s still within a reasonable and respectable time frame.
He added: “I feel good about what the team is doing and I think it’s a stellar job that we’re able to respond as quickly as we can.”