The sometimes cold and rainy wait that Chatham-Kent residents experience as they get tested for COVID-19 will soon shorten.
Starting next week, the Emma Street testing clinic will be moved to the St. Clair College HealthPlex in Chatham.
The goal of moving the assessment center to its new location on 1001 Grand Ave. W. is to provide more space, according to Lori Marshall, president and CEO of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA).
“I was out earlier this week chatting with some folks who were in the lineup for the assessment centre, and we know that weather is getting a little bit more chilly and inclement,” she said. “And we want to make sure that people who are waiting for an actual swab can do so in greater comfort than we currently are able to offer.”
More parking will also be available, as well as the ability to expand with additional hours and spaces if needed.
On Friday, Chatham-Kent reported its fifth day with no new COVID-19 cases. Active cases in the municipality remain at three, and one of the individuals was moved to the hospital yesterday.
Assessment centres in the hot zones continue to be overwhelmed, however, according to Marshall, Chatham-Kent’s assessment centre demand remains at a steady 200 people per day.
During the height of municipal cases, the Emma Street location saw up to 500 people per day. Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel were called in to help with the overload, and will be there for Monday’s opening.
“I'm happy to say that on Monday, when we move over to the HealthPlex with our assessment centre, (EMS) are also going to be there with us that day to help us with the volume that has been booked, as well as for us to get used to our new space and to be able to manage walk-ins that might come in,” Marshall said. “It's important to know that that's really just there on Monday in order for us to get settled.”
Marshall said the CKHA can’t predict what volumes will look like over the next few weeks, and will regularly evaluate to readjust to the needs.
CKHA is looking for more staff for the assessment centre to avoid reallocating personnel from the hospital beds.
"I think we can all appreciate that in the past, when we originally opened the assessment center, we were operating the hospital at a significantly lower occupancy rate... Because (the hospitals) are certainly seeing a full house, and are also wanting to make sure that we're able to address the surgical needs of our population,” Marshall said.
An assessment centre at Shoppers Drug Mart, on St. Clair Street, also opened up for individuals who are asymptomatic, which Marshall said will help with CKHA volumes.
Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice