Moving from Memorial Arena, the COVID-19 Assessment Centre (AC) moved back to the Kinsmen Centre on June 21.
This move is a result of the Mass Vaccination Clinic moving from the Maitland Recreation Centre (MRC) to the Memorial Arena, providing adequate time to put the ice back in at MRC.
Despite adapting to changes throughout the pandemic, and moving locations, the AC continues to play a major role in minimizing risk to the community. The Goderich Assessment Centre is the only testing centre in the county serving all of its residents.
According to Jessica Steadman, lead nurse at the Goderich AC, the flow of patients through the centre has continually fluctuated since the beginning of the pandemic.
Testing peaks occurred mid-September to early October after kids went back to school. Steadman says that peak included the highest testing day of 110 swabs.
Another peak came in January after the holidays during the second wave, and again in March to mid-April 2021 when school and daycare screenings required people with one symptom to get tested.
Steadman says with various unpredictable outbreaks staff were required to complete an increase amount of contact tracing.
With several lockdowns, restrictions in place and ssince kids returned to remote learning in mid-April the centre has been testing approximately 30 to 45 patients per day.
“The future of testing is difficult to predict, but with the emergence of the Delta variant and reopening of the economy we could potentially see another surge in testing,” said Steadman.
“The increase in vaccine uptake will also be of impact in the coming months.”
Various groups of the population have been tested including symptomatic patients assessed over the phone to decide if they require a swab.
Many asymptomatic patients include those who work in, or are essential caregivers in long-term care homes, those who require swabs prior to health treatments, procedures, surgeries, as well as those in contact with a positive COVID-19 case.
Steadman says that since the beginning of the pandemic staff stepped up to meet the needs of the community in the face of the unknown.
Joining the team in mid-October, Steadman says despite policies in place for infection control there was an increased level of concern among staff when the second wave occurred in early January.
“At this time many of us still did not even have our first dose of vaccine and we were also bringing people into the assessment centre because winter weather made testing in a drive-through no longer possible,” said Steadman.
Staff at the assessment centre did their best to minimize risk, while identifying those at highest risk of testing positive.
Since the need for testing arose last spring, a large collection of staff including doctors, NPs, RNs, RPNS, RRTs, Health Promoters, IT and administrative staff kept the centre functioning. Huron County Paramedics and their community paramedicine team coordinated with the AC to swab homebound individuals within the county.
The centre is run by the Maitland Valley Family Health Team (MVFHT) under direction of executive director Matt Hoy and in partnership with Alexandra Marine and General Hospital.
“I feel that we have played an important role in our community over the course of the pandemic and it is evident in many of our interactions with patients over the last year,” said Steadman.
“Many have expressed their gratitude for the work we are doing here to keep services available close to home.”