Swab testing in Chatham relocates to bigger digs

Chatham-Kent's COVID-19 Assessment Centre at St. Clair College HealthPlex in Chatham. Oct 1, 2020. (Photo courtesy of St. Clair College)

Chatham-Kent’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre is moving to the St. Clair College HealthPlex in Chatham next week.

The new testing site at 1001 Grand Avenue West will officially welcome patients for testing on Monday when the assessment centre at 47 Emma St. closes. The president and CEO of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA), Lori Marshall, said the new location will give the public more space to comfortably wait inside with the cold weather coming.

Marshall said the new location will allow the hospital to handle up to 300 tests a day but other partners, such as the paramedics, will need to be called to help with higher volumes. Marshall said the move is to meet the increased demand in testing that is expected to continue in the coming months. She also said staffing levels and volumes at the assessment centre will be regularly reviewed and assessed to handle higher demand and longer lineups.

“It also does have the ability for us to expand with more additional hours or spaces in the event we see the demand start to increase,” said Marshall. “In terms of staffing the assessment centre, we have been looking for some new and additional staff because we can’t just reallocate staff from our hospital beds or operating rooms now to that function because we are certainly seeing a full house.”

Marshall said the current COVID-19 Assessment Centre is testing about 200 people per day. Marshall added the location at 47 Emma St. will not be turned into an assessment centre exclusively for students like the one in Sarnia but consultation continues with CK Public Health to find testing alternatives if needed.

“We are not looking to set up additional assessment centres, we are moving the assessment centre from Emma Street over to St. Clair College. So, we aren’t expanding there [Emma Street],” said Marshall.

A mobile clinic will be held by Chatham-Kent EMS and CKHA in the parking lot at the HealthPlex on Monday to accommodate booked appointments and walk-in testing that day while the centre moves from its previous location on Emma Street. The new testing site will have more parking. The new assessment centre will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last appointment at 4:20 p.m. The HealthPlex will also partially remain on standby as an operationally ready field hospital in case of a potential patient surge.