KEMPTVILLE – The region now has another COVID-19 testing site, and officials hope it will take some pressure off an overrun Brockville location.
The launch of the North Grenville community-based COVID-19 assessment centre, at 7 a.m. on Thursday, was both smooth and efficient.
Residents seeking COVID-19 tests entered the Kemptville Campus (formerly Kemptville College) site through College Road, where they received a time slot. They were then directed to leave the campus via Curtis Road and return for their time slot through Campus Drive (off Concession Road) and park in the designated spot.
The tests are being conducted at Bell Hall across from the parking lot.
"It was a good experience, everything went smoothly, I was impressed at how well everything went," said Rebecca Smith, who had just completed her test.
The North Grenville COVID-19 Assessment Centre is a collaboration of five community partners: Rideau Crossing Family Health Centre, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, the Leeds Grenville Paramedic Service, the Municipality of North Grenville and Kemptville District Hospital.
"It's really been driven by one local physician, Dr. Suzanne Rutherford, from Rideau Crossing Family Health Centre. It's her design, she took what she had learned from working at the Brewer Assessment Centre in Ottawa and designed the whole flow and it's been going really well,” said Jenny Read, the communications and patient relations officer, who was directing people through the parking lot.
What sounds like a convoluted route, but is actually quite easy to follow, was carefully selected to reduce traffic around the schools at the Kemptville Campus. Additional security on site, and volunteers directing traffic, help support the flow of cars and people.
"I am humbled by the outpouring of support that we have received from local residents who want to help out in any way they can. Many of the administrative, nursing and cleaning staff have offered to work on their days off to make this assessment centre a reality," said Rutherford.
While there was a long lineup at College Road, people said they were waiting less than 20 minutes to receive their time slots. It was the same again once they came back at their allotted time for the swab.
The initial plan was to schedule 50 people per hour for tests, but it soon became clear that the system could comfortably accommodate more.
"Council has been acutely aware of the need for a COVID-19 testing centre in North Grenville, and are pleased to support this community-based assessment centre," said Mayor Nancy Peckford.
Testing for COVID-19 is being performed on individuals over the age of two with COVID-19 symptoms and/or close contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. The most common symptoms include cough, fever, and shortness of breath.
"Providing additional testing capacity for our community will allow people who have symptoms, or who have been advised by public health to be tested, an opportunity to do so close to home," said Dr. Paula Stewart, medical officer of health for the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit.
"This is critical to preventing COVID-19 transmission in our community."
The opening of the new testing site is welcome news to staff at the Brockville assessment centre, where police had to be called in to deal with long lineups of motorists since a surge in testing started earlier this month. Officials in Brockville had expressed confidence the Kemptville location would ease the flow of people pouring into the Memorial Centre site.
(With files from Ronald Zajac)
Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative, Brockville Recorder and Times