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Frequently Asked Questions

Latest updates on COVID-19

COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

Visitor Information at Niagara Health

Assessment Centres - Getting tested for COVID-19

These Frequently Asked Questions and Answers are updated on a regular basis.

Please check back often for the latest information. Updated January 26, 2021

Essential Care Partners  and support persons

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What can I do to protect myself from getting COVID-19?

  • Clean your hands often
  • Practice physical distancing – avoid large gatherings and remain two-metres apart from others
  • Wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces or where physical distancing is not possible
  • Avoid shaking hands and close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or into your sleeve
  • Stay home if you are sick

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19, which is the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus, range from mild — like the flu and other common respiratory infections — to severe.

The most common symptoms include:

  • fever (feeling hot to the touch, a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher)
  • chills
  • cough that's new or worsening (continuous, more than usual)
  • barking cough, making a whistling noise when breathing (croup)
  • shortness of breath (out of breath, unable to breathe deeply)
  • sore throat
  • difficulty swallowing
  • runny, stuffy or congested nose (not related to seasonal allergies or other known causes or conditions)
  • lost sense of taste or smell
  • pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • headache that’s unusual or long lasting
  • digestive issues (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain)
  • muscle aches
  • extreme tiredness that is unusual (fatigue, lack of energy)
  • falling down often
  • for young children and infants: sluggishness or lack of appetite

(Source: Ministry of Health)

I think I may have COVID-19, how can I be tested?

COVID-19 Assessment Centres are prioritizing those most at risk for the virus. Members of the public should only seek testing if they are:

  • Showing COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by their public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app;
  • A resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by their local public health unit; and
  • Eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care. Learn more here.

If you meet the criteria above, please book an appointment for testing:

  • Complete the online booking form here.
  • Or you can 905-378-4647 ext. 42819 (4-CV19) and leave a message. Staff at the Assessment Centre will return calls as soon as possible to schedule a date and time for testing.

If you do not meet the criteria above, please visit the Ontario Government's website for a full list of pharmacy testing locations.

If this is a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the nearest Emergency Department. Advise them of your symptoms and if you have recently travelled.

Do I need an appointment to be tested?

Testing at Niagara Health's COVID-19 Assessment Centres is available by appointment only. Assessment Centres are prioritizing testing for those most at risk for having COVID-19.

Yes. Our Assessment Centres are available by appointment only. To book an appointment:

  • Complete the online booking form here.
  • Or you can call 905-378-4647 ext. 42819 (4-CV19) and leave a message. Staff at the Assessment Centre will return calls as soon as possible to schedule a date and time for testing.

Where are the COVID-19 Assessment Centres located?

For safety reasons, COVID-19 Assessment Centres have dedicated entrances. Please do not enter through the main entrance or Emergency Department when you arrive for testing. Testing at our centres is available by appointment only. Once your appointment has been confirmed, you will receive instructions on how to access the Assessment Centre.

St. Catharines Assessment Centre: Open Monday to Sunday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Located behind the Walker Family Cancer Centre at the rear of the St. Catharines Site at 1200 Fourth Ave. The centre has a dedicated entrance off First St. Louth.

Niagara Falls Assessment Centre: Open Monday to Sunday 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Assessment Centre is located at the main hospital building at 5546 Portage Rd. The centre has a dedicated entrance off North Street, just east of the Emergency Department.

Welland Assessment Centre: Open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Located in the auditorium of the Welland Site at 65 Third Street. The dedicated parking spots can be accessed from Nightingale Place.

You can find maps to the centres on our Assessment Centres webpage.

Can someone accompany me at the Assessment Centre while I’m being tested?

We ask that you arrive alone for testing if possible.

I am uninsured. Can I still come for testing?

Yes. There is no fee for being tested at one of our Assessment Centres.

How long will it take to get my test results? How will I access them? What should I do while I am waiting for the results?

While Niagara Health conducts COVID-19 swabs at its assessment centres, samples are sent to Ontario Public Health labs for testing. Niagara Region Public Health follows up with patients on their test results only if their results are positive for COVID-19.

Patients with a valid Ontario health card can access their test results online in three ways:

  1. The Ministry of Health has launched a new user-friendly online portal for the public to easily access their COVID-19 lab test results. It can take up to seven days to receive test results for COVID-19. 
    Please note: If results state “Unable to post positive/negative results on this website”, results may be available in another location. To find the other location, look for an arrow on the lower right hand side that says “Previous results”. Verify the results in this section and match the date you had your COVID-19 test.
  2. The Niagara Health Navigator allows users to access the Ministry of Health online portal through the app, under the “Self-Assessment and Lab Results” tile.
  3. MyChart is a web-based portal that allows patients to track personal health records and information and access test results. Patients will need to register for a MyChart account to access COVID-19 test results.

Patients that do not have a current Ontario health card or would like the test results of their child (12 years old or under) may contact the Assessment Centre where they were tested or contact their health care provider (doctor’s office). To contact the Assessment Centre, call 905-378-4647, then:

  • St. Catharines, ext. 44470
  • Niagara Falls, ext. 52451
  • Welland, ext. 33220

While waiting for test results, continue to self-isolate. Visit the Niagara Region Public Health website for more information about COVID-19 test results.

What happens if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 at the hospital?

The health, safety and well-being of everyone is our top priority.

In an outbreak, our Infection Prevention and Control experts take immediate action to protect our patients, staff and physicians. They work closely with Niagara Region Public Health and our Occupational Health and Safety team to closely monitor the situation and adjust our safety measures as needed.

How are you planning for an increase in patients?

We are closely monitoring the number of patients coming to the hospital and working diligently to manage patient flow. We are maintaining space within the hospital so there is capacity for a potential surge of COVID-19 positive patients.

We have also implemented important infection prevention and control procedures, including physical distancing for the continued safety of our patients, our community, and our teams. We’re appreciative of the community’s patience during this time and we ask for your continued understanding as we work as quickly and safely as we can to re-introduce services while maintaining vigilance for COVID-19 activity.

Information on any current outbreaks will be posted to our case reporting page.

I have an upcoming surgery/procedure, do I need to be tested for COVID-19 before coming to my appointment?

Yes. All patients who are coming in for surgery/procedure must be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their appointment. As you get ready for surgery/procedure, you must self-isolate from others as much as possible. If you develop symptoms of COVID -19 (such as fever, cough, trouble breathing) before your surgery/procedure, please contact your physician for further instructions. Please refer to our tip sheet on how to prepare for surgery.


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Essential Care Partners  and support persons

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What is an Essential Care Partner and who is eligible?

Essential Care Partners are not the same as a visitor or support person. They function as a member of the care team, providing special care to their loved one.
We encourage our care teams to proactively ask eligible patients if they would like to designate an ECP.

Some situational examples where the presence of an ECP is permitted are:

  • Life altering events (i.e. absence of certain visitor could result in long term health effects, emotional or psychological)
  • Vulnerable patients who may be unable to communicate effectively or suffering from cognitive impairment
  • Patients that require a caregiver to prevent physical hardship or support for transitions in care

Patients are eligible for an Essential Care Partner if admitted into an inpatient bed for five days or more or have preplanned surgeries. Patients in the Emergency Department are not eligible to have an ECP.

How do I become an Essential Care Partner?

Essential Care Partners are designated by a patient or substitute decision maker (SDM) as someone who can provide emotional, cognitive or physical support during their hospital stay. Patients wishing to designate an Essential Care Partner should make the request through their care team. Staff will also proactively identify patients that would benefit from the presence of an ECP. 

Niagara Health completes all required paperwork and will ultimately decide if a patient is eligible for an ECP. Loved ones are encouraged to contact the patient’s care team for more details.

Joining the care team as an ECP requires a weekly commitment and completion of an orientation prior to being accepted. ECPs are required to follow all of the hospital infection prevention and control guidelines and will be trained on how we are keeping the hospital a safe environment for everyone.

Who do I contact to arrange access while I support an outpatient?

Call the unit directly or reach our switchboard at 905-378-4647 to speak with a member of the care team.

Entering our sites

Please note that we are limiting the points of entry/exit at each of our sites. Emergency Department and Urgent Care entrances at all of our sites are open 24/7.

Download a printable version of important information and requirements for Essential Care Partners and support persons.

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Are Mental Health and Addictions services available?

COVID-19 has affected everyone differently and some people may be feeling worried, anxious and/or overwhelmed. There are services available at Niagara Health and in the community for those needing support. If you would like to know more about mental health and addiction resources across the Niagara Region, visit our website.

If you or your loved one is experiencing a mental health and addiction emergency, we encourage you to go to the nearest Emergency Department.  If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or are unable to get to the hospital safely (for example if you have taken an overdose), stay home and call 9-1-1.


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