‘Hockey Hub’ vaccination clinic at Hanover arena ready to go

·5 min read

HANOVER – Local media got a preview of the new ‘Hockey Hub’ in Hanover on Friday, Feb. 26.

The hub is a model for mass COVID-19 immunization clinics.

The event was hosted by Grey Bruce Public Health. Following greetings by local health and municipal officials, members of the media had the opportunity to tour the Hockey Hub. Hopefully, their next visit to a Hockey Hub vaccination centre will be when they get vaccinated.

Among the speakers at Friday’s event was Grey County Warden Selwyn “Buck” Hicks, deputy mayor of Hanover. He called the Hockey Hub a “spectacular achievement” and thanked all those who made the facility possible, including the Town of Hanover, and the area’s hockey community.

“It’s quite an undertaking,” he said. “I hope it’s not long before this place is buzzing!”

That won’t be until the supply of vaccine increases substantially. That should come in late March or April.

Hanover Mayor Sue Paterson, who chairs the Grey-Bruce board of health, said Hanover is an ideal place for the Hockey Hub.

“It has a central location and easy access,” she said. “Overall, the population is engaged and informed.”

Paterson commented, “If (the Hockey Hub model) works here, it will work in other communities … We are really proud to be part of the solution.”

Bruce Power was instrumental in providing funding and manpower for setting up the Hockey Hub. James Scongack, vice-president of corporate affairs and operational services, noted this area has done “exceptionally well” in keeping the numbers down, and coming together as a community.

“What we have here in Grey-Bruce is very special … I’m looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, adding, “Grey-Bruce has always been ahead of the curve.”

A short Bruce Power video was shown; it showed what clients will find from the moment they enter the Hockey Hub. Included in the video was a message from Bruce County Warden Janice Jackson, who said, “We’re doing everything we can to end this pandemic.”

Last to speak was the man of the hour, Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health and the driving force behind the Hockey Hub concept, from concept to implementation.

He spoke of the many partners in the project.

“The partners have done the heavy lifting,” he said.

He also discussed the task force in Grey-Bruce that represents so many sectors. Arra said he hopes to see this model adopted by the federal government.

“Arenas are ubiquitous in Canada,” he said.

The facility set up on the arena floor of the P&H Centre consists of rows of cubicles and is designed to allow 4,500 people per day to be vaccinated in a 10-hour day, by five vaccinators assisted by non-medical personnel.

Hanover’s arena has some special attributes that make it ideal – hands-free doors, wide corridors, plenty of space and a large amount of parking.

The same setup is used at the Davidson Centre in Kincardine and Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound. They’ll be ready by March 5.

It’s a model that can be downsized or made larger, depending on the size of the arena and the amount of vaccine available. Communities across the country have the infrastructure. It’s a matter of using a proven model.

Arra explained the Hockey Hub is far more efficient and cost-effective than traditional vaccination clinics.

A public health press release stated traditional large-volume clinics administer about 1,000 vaccines a day, using 20 vaccinators.

What makes the Hockey Hub model work better is using clinical staff for clinical duties only, and other staff for non-medical duties.

From the moment the client enters the vaccination hub, the process is streamlined and designed for maximum efficiency and safety. Once registered, the client remains in an individual pod for the entire process – documentation, administering vaccine and recovery. The vaccinator moves from pod to pod. In the Hockey Hub model, a vaccinator can administer 90 vaccines per hour.

It’s not only faster, but safer. Fainting is an acknowledged risk at vaccination clinics, but this one has less risk of injury. The client is vaccinated and recovers in the same location, instead of having to walk to a recovery area. The need for disinfecting is minimized because the client stays in one location, and there’s less chance of anything being transmitted.

The Hockey Hub model costs about $6,000 per 1,000 vaccines, about $1.7 million for a population of 140,000. Traditional large volume clinics cost $26,000 per 1,000 or $7.2 million for 140,000.

Arra said given a sufficient supply of vaccine, the three Hockey Hubs in Grey-Bruce could vaccinate 140,000 people, or 75 per cent of the population, in about 21 days. Conventional clinics would take months rather than days.

“The Hockey Hub is an ideal solution for large-scale immunization, not just locally but across Canada,” said Arra.

At Friday’s press conference, he said the blueprints for the Hockey Hub have been made available throughout the province, and a number of other health units have requested them. The local health unit has even received a request for the blueprints from Australia.

The Hockey Hub won’t be used for a while, apart from the recent test run vaccinating EMS personnel.

There are two distribution models for vaccine, one traditional, using doctor’s offices and pharmacies. That’s the model in use right now, said Arra. The other, the mass vaccination centres, will be used when vaccines are available in large amounts.

When that happens, there’ll be more learned, and that knowledge will be shared, said Arra.

He noted the Hockey Hub is designed to move as many people through, as quickly as possible, meaning police have been involved to ensure the traffic flow through town is good.

Arra was asked if he was excited to see the Hockey Hub vaccination centre in Hanover ready to go.

“Excited? You can say that again!” said the usually unflappable Arra.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times