As workers trickle back to the office, employers will be anxious enough about withstanding the pandemic without having to worry about their workforce being COVID-free.
Is there someone who is asymptomatic, unknowingly infecting their colleagues? Should your fully-vaccinated employees get tested, just in case? And where can they get tested without losing half a day in a lineup at a public health COVID testing site?
All these wildcards will be competing for mind share as employers pivot to a pandemic economy.
That’s where GEM Health Care Services comes in.
GEM offers a wide suite of services that includes everything from homecare and physiotherapy to N95 mask test fitting, and now testing for COVID-19.
Clients can drop by GEM’s office on Parkdale Avenue for their test, or businesses can have a certified healthcare professional administer the tests at a workplace, business event or social gathering.
Health Canada warns up to 50 per cent of COVID-19 transmission could be caused by people without symptoms, which recently prompted the province to give out rapid antigen testing kits to local companies.
The problem with those free kits, says owner Gaye Moffett, a registered nurse who founded the company in 1994, is do-it-yourself testing really isn’t very practical.
Companies would need to appoint an employee to administer the tests daily, which can be a time consuming and complicated process.
Better to have the testing done by a healthcare professional wearing medically-safe clothing and gear, she says.
GEM offers two types of easily-accessible COVID-19 testing — rapid antigen and PCR.
Rapid antigen testing involves nose swabs to examine for protein specific to the COVID-19 virus. While these tests provide quick results, they are considered to be less accurate than PCR tests, but are fine for most uses.
PCR tests are the gold standard in COVID-19 testing. They provide more accurate results than the rapid tests because they use a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to identify viral genetic material of COVID-19.
Clients can receive their test results from GEM in as little as 15 minutes and with regular testing, Moffett says, employers can be confident everyone is safe and have the certainty they need to run and plan their business.
Proactive instead of reactive
While GEM has always been invested in the health of the community, the pandemic has put the company in the business of providing “peace of mind” for Ottawa employers, says Gavin Schnobb, chief operations officer at GEM.
Schnobb, son of the founder, says the company is making it its mission to help employers gain confidence their workplaces are safe, with minimum disruption and quick results.
“You know that everyone has been tested and you have peace of mind,’’ he says.
Another good reason to get tested with GEM? You don’t have to wait until you show symptoms or prove you were exposed to the virus to get tested.
Whether for work, or personal reasons, Ottawans can book an appointment for a test at GEM for as little as $35, making it safer for everyone in the community.
As for the fully vaccinated, Sophie Balog, GEM’s COVID co-ordinator, says they too should get tested, especially if they plan on heading back to the workplace.
“While you are protected against serious illness, you can still get it,” she adds.
At the end of the day, a half-hour spent at GEM is a good investment for the wellness of your balance sheet and everyone in your office.
It all started with some phone calls
In 1994, registered nurse Gaye Moffett found herself wondering what else she could do to create better community care.
As an experienced healthcare worker, she had a network of contacts at the city’s hospitals and nursing homes. She started phoning them from an office on Parkdale Avenue and they told her they needed help filling gaps in staffing.
So she became a healthcare recruiter, and things grew from there. “I thought I wanted to make a difference,” she says. “So I went out on a limb and became an entrepreneur.”
Today, GEM Health Care Services has offices in Brampton and Newmarket and currently sits at 150 employees. Home and community care account for around 70 per cent of GEM’s business.
To find out more about GEM or to book your COVID-19 test visit https://gemhealthcare.com.