HALIFAX -- Anyone who's had to go for a blood-test in this pandemic is well-aware the experience is far different -- assuming you can get an appointment.

At one of the busiest blood collection sites in Nova Scotia, Deborah Story says she booked her routine appointment on the phone -- well-aware she was lucky to get it.

"I got through on the phone very quickly, but it was probably about two weeks ago that I called, and this was the first appointment I could get," she said.

Bob Ouellette but figures he called a dozen times to book an appointment for his 92-year-old mother.

"No matter how you cut it, I'd say 10, 12 tries before you finally get in the queue," he said.

Walk-in blood collection simply isn't feasible during the pandemic, so carefully spaced appointments are necessary.

It's meant long waits for some, and long drives for others.

Some patients in Halifax have driven as far as Sheet Harbour for routine tests.

Doctors admit it's not ideal, and has translated into extra work, but patients who require urgent blood tests are getting them.

Health officials are well aware of the frustration, and have implemented a rapidly expanding online booking system to help deal with the backlog.

Lab techs are also working longer-hours and extra days.

Despite the barriers, 90,000 tests a month are being completed in Nova Scotia -- about 75 per cent of the pre-COVID total.

Although there's been a sizeable backlog in testing since the shutdown in the spring, officials insist they are working through it and those who need urgent tests are getting them.

In the meantime, they're asking their patients to be patient.