Private COVID-19 PCR Testing Arrives at Small-Town Alberta Pharmacies in Under-Serviced Areas

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Two Alberta-based companies have partnered to roll out the first-of-its-kind local COVID-19  polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.

Sandstone Pharmacies is joining forces with CardiAi™, developer of the saliva-based, Canadian-made CoviLamp™ PCR test to provide easy, private, accurate COVID-19 testing across southern Alberta. Saliva samples will be taken at each pharmacy location and sent to the CardiAi™ labs in Calgary.

“Our collaboration with CardiAi™ ensures our PCR test is made available to as many Albertans as possible,” said Marco Casagrande, Vice President, Sandstone Pharmacies. “Rural markets are often undercapitalized in terms of getting access to these kinds of resources.”

Marco Casagrande
Marco Casagrande

The tests have been available in their 20 pharmacy locations across the province since February 9.

In order to receive the test, patients must:

  • Be asymptomatic (showing no symptoms)
  • It’s recommended people call the store to confirm the test and the timeline that will work for their needs. Check for the location nearest you
  • Make an appointment directly through the pharmacy’s online tool. When registering, the patient information (including email for results and documentation) is gathered
  • Pay the $149 +GST fee, which includes the required documentation for work or travel purposes

Included in the various locations are smaller communities like Medicine Hat, Nanton, Innisfail, and Blackfalds that now have convenient local access to quick, easy and accurate testing. You can also find them in the Calgary International Airport and smaller towns in the Calgary area, like Bragg Creek and Langdon.

Sandstone Pharmacies
Sandstone Pharmacies

This allows people to get tested in their own area, by their local pharmacist. And they are notified of their result, via encrypted email with the documentation, in as short a timeframe as 4 hours. Letting those who receive a negative test result return to work, and their lives, with a minimal amount of disturbance.

Sandstone Pharmacies focuses on offering other forms of point-of-care testing, like the PCR test, says Casagrande, so people in smaller towns save time and don’t have to travel. While he describes the pace of testing now as “moderate”, Casagrande predicts that if travel restrictions ease later in the year and destination countries require a negative test, patients might need to plan to ensure they get tested in time.

“We understand implicitly people’s need to have trusted local facilities where they can get friendly professional advice as well as the medical and healthcare products they need,” Casagrande explained. “With the global pandemic crisis, this has become more important than ever. We’re very pleased to be partnering with one of Canada’s most exciting healthcare innovators, CardiAi™, ensuring all Albertans have a quick and convenient way to get accurately tested.”

Article Author

Patricia Viscount
Patricia Viscount
Patricia Viscount lives in Calgary and has over 25 years of experience as a communications specialist, writer and editor. She began her career as a public affairs officer in the Canadian Forces before transitioning to a senior advisor role in the energy industry. Self-employed since 2016, she helps her clients navigate the stressful world of words to allow them to build business messages with confidence and clarity.

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  1. I like this idea but this test should be based on income on a sliding scale many ppl in remote rural communities would not be able to afford this test or those making under 30k a year. Target a higher cost 200 dollars?for those in corporations or individuals in a high income bracket. As a retired nurse this is a stressful time for our country and people need to be treated fairly with kindness, and it will be good for business.


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