For nearly a quarter century, Estevan has relied upon South East Options Consulting. This reliance has increased during the pandemic.
The company provides services such as drug and alcohol testing, breathing mask fitting, audiometric tests and hearing conservation, and pulmonary function testing/spirometry.
The local business was able to expand due to the influx in COVID-19-testing inquiries.
Tara Smart, owner manager, didn’t plan to do COVID testing at first. But their clientele had other ideas.
“I will be honest, months ago I didn’t want to have anything to with the COVID. We started getting calls after calls, so I realized that this was a service that Estevan needs. We were probably the first to offer rapid testing.
South East Options began performing COVID testing in September after they had received approval from the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
Every day, the demand for testing varies. Smart said that they range from one up to 20 per day.
She explained that she also began coming in Sunday afternoons because people needed it for work Monday mornings. “We did have quite some people asking for weekend testing.”
Sundays can be reserved only by appointment. Smart stated that they prefer appointments to walk-ins during weekdays.
COVID-19 outlined a need for one service. Another was put on hold for safety reasons.
The pandemic caused the suspension of spirometry (lung-function testing) early.
Smart explained, “When you do a lungfunction test, or even spirometry,” you have to blow extremely hard. It can cause coughing, which is a common way to spread COVID. We have resumed spirometry testing with new safety protocols. We are just going to be cautious and spacing them out quite a bit.
Smart stated that spirometry was affected in all areas, and that many other companies had to stop using the service.
The legalization of Marijuana brought another change to the business world.
“We did notice a slight shift in urine drug testing to oral fluid testing. THC is fat-soluble so it stays in urine for longer than in saliva.
Tedford stated that drug testing is done with some people, either for their children or their own peace of mind.
Drug testing can be done at South East Options at 1101 5th Street, Estevan. Hair tests can be done to determine if there has been any drug use for at least 90 days.
Smart’s parents, Garry and Lynn Tedford, started the locally-owned-and-operated business in 1997, responding to a need in the community for Department of Transport cross-border drug testing.
Smart took over for her mother three years ago, after she retired. Smart’s sister Launa, who has been working there for 15 years, is one of three technicians on the team. Carol is the third technician. Nicole handles accounting and books.
Five nurses are on staff. Their schedules revolve around the hospital’s.
“Because of my mom’s kindness, she was always like, “It’s family.” You are family here. You are more than an employee.
Smart shared that she feels blessed that her team works so well together.
South East Options recently invested in a new machine for mask-fitting.
Smart stated that this was “for me, that’s the biggest purchase since taking over,” These items are not cheap. But, good old faithful, it is time to retire it.”
The machine is digital and guides clients through the steps to get the perfect-fitting mask.
There are both quantitative and qualitative tests for mask-fit.
Smart stated that a quantitative mask fit is the most frequent one that we do. This is to fit full-face masks, Scott packs and SCBA. Your half masks are your full-face ones. The disposable masks will be made from qualitative masks. So, we did mask fitting – qualitative for disposable masks. You will need the mask to be able to enter certain areas. People who go to nursing school or med school often need to have their mask fitted with P-95s.
Smart said that they can see how busy things are in oil fields based on how many drugs or alcohol tests they handle.
Smart stated that safety and health will remain important elements of the workforce and daily life, regardless of whether they are conducting COVID-19 or substance testing.
“Essevan has always been there, no matter how difficult our business is. Over 40 years, I’ve lived here all my life. It is evident with the oilfields and other things. It moves up and down. Safety will not disappear. Even with drug testing, things may change. While drugs may become legal, it doesn’t change that safety must always come first.
Visit their website to learn more about South East OptionsHereContact their office at 306-634-90979