The Original COVID-19 Assessment Centre

On March 17th, the original COVID-19 Assessment Centre opened at 65 Delhi Street. This Centre was quickly pulled together, in only a few weeks, through a new partnership between leadership at Guelph General Hospital, the Guelph Family Health Team, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health and The City of Guelph Guelph-Wellington Paramedic Service. The partners identified their strengths and divided up the roles with the Hospital and Guelph Family Health Team contributing clinical staff, management and planning staff, equipment and medical supplies.Information about COVID-19 in early March was changing on the daily, as were projections of the rate of community transmission. Into this unsettling unknown stepped the courageous front line healthcare workers at the Assessment Centre. They reviewed policies and procedures regarding the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and how to avoid transmission while properly administering the swab test. Fear and anxiety were shoved aside and they went to work to thwart this unknown foe through the critically important work of testing people in the community for the virus.The Guelph COVID-19 Assessment Center saw 1,013 community members over the first four weeks of service all the while searching for a larger space to allow testing to ramp up even more. The Victoria Road Recreation Centre was the site offered by The City of Guelph and plans were made for the move and reopening on April 6th.

The recreation centre allowed for a patient prioritization space where nurses could determine whether someone qualified for a swab under the guidelines in place at the time, before the criteria was opened up to everyone by the Government in early June. The large corridor allowed people to wait for registration at the central desk space and then to flow into a room filled with 17 patient bays for testing and assessment. The flow ensured physical distancing requirements were met at all times. This new space allowed the team, which by now included a number of doctors alongside the nurses, to test 406 people in a single day on June 29th, their highest daily result.

What happens to that swab? The nursing staff prepare the samples which are sent to Laboratory Services at Guelph General Hospital who log and send them on to external labs. Using external labs helps to preserve test kits for use on our inpatients. Once results are entered into the medical database by Lab, the team at the Guelph COVID-19 Assessment Centre contact those who have tested positive. Next Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health follows up for contact tracing and notifications to those who may have been exposed.

Guelph COVID-19 Assessment Centre clinical staff determinedly and continuously adapt their processes on the fly, as information and testing criteria shifts and volumes fluctuate. They meet hundreds of people daily who may be anxious and frightened and they offer reassurance and excellent care. While it may seem like this would be a scary place to work, the staff feel safe and supported and have become a solid team who work well together.

The partnerships formed and strengthened between agencies to bring the Guelph COVID-19 Assessment Centre to our community will be long-lasting. We are extremely proud of the part our staff have played in this and are grateful for the health care heroes who joined with us to keep the community safe.

This story originated on Guelph General Hospital’s Facebook page on July 13th, 2020 as part of its #behindthemask series to share how the Hospital is working hard to protect patients and visitors from #COVID19.