Glenn Letham says he is the first patient to have been tested for COVID-19 at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. He took the test Monday, but says it will likely come back as a negative. (Glenn Letham/Twitter)

Glenn Letham says he is the first patient to have been tested for COVID-19 at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. He took the test Monday, but says it will likely come back as a negative. (Glenn Letham/Twitter)

Central Saanich resident among the first tested for COVID-19 at Saanich Peninsula Hospital

Glenn Letham chose to get tested after returning from the United States and developing cough

A Central Saanich resident described the experience of getting tested for COVID-19 in a matter-of-fact way, while also worrying about what would happen if it spread.

“You know what, I’m getting so used it to seeing it now [in the media] that I really didn’t think anything of it,” said Glenn Letham, a 55-year-old technology journalist, when asked was going through his mind as he was tested Monday at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. “I was impressed that through the whole procedure I really wasn’t near any other people. They had that whole area pretty much isolated.”

For the record, he does not know the results of the test yet, but the attending doctor told him that he would likely be a negative. “Based on that, the swab might not even go to the lab for testing,” said Letham.

But if Letham sounded sanguine about his own outcome, the testing experience also had a disconcerting note.

“I don’t think they’d be able to deal with a large number of people,” he said. “If they had hundreds of people there, that would obviously be a problem.” By way of background, Island Health has asked residents experiencing symptoms such as a new fever, dry cough or difficulty breathing to contact their primary care provider or call HealthLink BC at 811 to be assessed prior to actual screening, with testing recommended for people with respiratory symptoms who have travelled outside of Canada.

“It is not a drive-through for anyone,” said Letham, in pointing to the current procedure. “I was the only one,” he said of his test. “They were just getting rolling.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

Letham, who said he was the first person to be tested at Saanich Peninsula Hospital, said he decided to get tested after experiencing what he called a “pretty bad cold” following his return from visiting family in the United States (Colorado) on March 10.

“The cough was getting worse, so I figured I better isolate and deal with this,” he said. “I have a compromised immune system as well, so I didn’t want to mess around.”

Letham said he was not spending any time in a major urban area, nor in a ski area with large crowds. “I really wasn’t out socializing a lot,” he said. “Honestly, my biggest concern during the whole trip was just going to the airport, because you get stuffed on a like a tram, and when are you jammed in, you feel like you are in a petri-dish.”

Letham said he started to experience the described symptoms within a couple of days of his return. “I didn’t think much about it,” he said. “But the fact that I had the cough and it was getting worse kind of gave me some concern.” The additional reporting around COVID-19 also heightened his concern. “From Tuesday to Saturday, it was like a whole new world,” he said.

In light of this, he chose to self-isolate over the weekend, during which he also called a personal medical contact.

“I asked him some questions and that put me in touch. It just happened that Monday was the first day [of testing]. So they were just setting up and I was the first guinea pig for the procedures.”

RELATED: Drive-through COVID-19 screening clinic opens in Victoria

Following instructions, Letham drove up to the hospital. He then dialed a number posted in a special area erected outside the hospital’s ER. “Somebody will then ask you questions, and if it escalates, they will then suit up accordingly,” he said. “They put a mask on you and then escorted me around the corner, where they have a section [with benches for waiting]. I sat there and waited outside for the nurses to come out and then get me. At that time, they took an X-ray and a nasal swap.”

The whole testing procedure — which happened in what Letham described as a “little ER” — took a minute, said Letham.

Overall, two nurses, and eventually a doctor, looked after him. “He said the X-ray looked good and said that I was probably fine,” he said. “He told me that in all likelihood I have bronchitis.”

When asked about the visuals of the experience, Letham said the medical staff looked exactly what he had seen on television. “They had full gloves, a full face shield, and a long plastic coat,” he said. “They were covered from head to toe.”

Following his test, Letham returned home to his duplex he currently shares with his parents, fully stocked up and taking all the necessary precautions along the way. “Even though I don’t have it, I need to be diligent,” he said. “I have masks and all the cleaners. I am going to stay put until I feel better, hopefully by Friday.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Elaine Kirwin in her Expedia Cruises office talks about the future of travel. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Sidney travel agency charts course through pandemic

Owner of Expedia Cruises in Sidney expects smooth sailing ahead once travel restrictions lift

Oak Bay Rotary Club member Lorna Curtis takes over as District Governor of Rotary District 5020 on July 1. (Courtesy Lorna Curtis)
Former Oak Bay recreation director goes international with Rotary

Lorna Curtis takes over as district governor on July 1

Police are asking opponents of logging near Port Renfrew not to involve their children following additional arrests Saturday. (Black Press Media File)
Police arrest eight protesters including two minors near Port Renfrew Saturday

RCMP ask parents not to involve their children in Fairy Creek logging protests

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read