Whether it’s a restaurant or retail store, Ken Milstone-Turner often does an online search about a business before he goes to it.

And he had the same approach a few weeks ago when he came down with some COVID-19 symptoms. After deciding he should get a test, the 24 year-old Toronto resident started searching online for where to go and what to expect. 

In an age when a quick Google search brings you detailed information, photos, maps and reviews of many businesses and services, Milstone-Turner says doing the same for Toronto’s COVID-19 testing centres was “not easy.”

He says besides basic information such as assessment centres hours and locations, “there isn’t really much information about what these tests look like.” That’s why he decided to build a website full of information on testing sites where people can also add their own reviews.

“You kind of go into these places blind,” Milstone-Turner said.

For example, when Milstone-Turner arrived to be tested at Humber River Hospital, he noticed a “paper sign” that said test results could take up to 10 days.

“I didn’t see that anywhere online before I booked,” he said, adding that a subsequent test he had done at Women’s College Hospital returned results much faster.

People can use the site to find nearby testing centres. Users can also give centres a rating and leave reviews. (gtatesting.org)

It’s that kind of information Milstone-Turner is trying to gather into his new website: gtatesting.org.

Visitors can use the site to search for COVID-19 assessment centres across Toronto. They’re able to read and leave reviews about the centres to provide a more detailed account of their experience at each one.

“The quickest way to describe it is Yelp for COVID-19 test centres,” Milstone-Turner said.

Unlike Yelp, his site isn’t a business and doesn’t generate any revenue. Milstone-Turner says even if he were seeing lots of traffic to the site, he wouldn’t be comfortable running advertising or trying to profit from people looking for help during a pandemic.

The site doesn’t have many reviews at this point, but creator Ken Milstone-Turner hopes it will grow into a useful database of information about COVID-19 assessment centres. (gtatesting.org)

He points out another example of the site’s potential usefulness from his own experience: at Women’s College Hospital, Milstone-Turner said there were tents and he waited for the test outdoors.

At Humber River Hospital, he said patients waited together indoors, something some people may not be comfortable doing. Searching online before going, he didn’t find any mention of this.

Milstone-Turner hopes that as his site grows, the finer details about assessment centres will be available through user reviews.

“I think people should have the right to choose that hospital environment that’s going to suit them best,” he said.

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