Edmontonians are taking advantage of the new drop-in COVID-19 testing centre in the city.
According to numbers provided by AHS, 556 people were tested at the centre, located at 7319 29 Avenue, on Wednesday — the first day the drop-in option was available.
Out of the 556 tests, 333 were appointments and 223 were drop-ins. AHS said appointments are preferred and is asking people who make them to keep their timeslot instead of dropping in.
Last week, the province announced it was expanding testing to all Albertans, regardless of whether they have symptoms.
The expanded testing is why Susan Zukiwsky made an appointment to get swabbed.
“Rather than walking around not knowing that, I think it’s better to know. Although I appreciate testing is specifically for today [and] you still need to be cautious afterward,” she said.
Once people enter the testing centre, they are required to wear a mask. They are registered then are taken to a station where a nurse or an allied healthcare professional will swab their throat.
Jocelyn Tews has been a registered nurse for nearly 23 years. While she has assisted in other outbreaks in the past, such as measles and H1N1, the COVID-19 outbreak is a bit different.
“A lot bigger and lasting a lot longer,” she said.
Tews said staff are fine-tuning the flow at the drop-in centre.
“We learn as we go. We tweak the process as we need to. For example, yesterday we really had no idea how many drop-in people would come,” she said.
“We rolled with it yesterday and as we realized there was quite a line up, we split people up into two different entrances. We were just flexible.”
Tews said she isn’t nervous when she administers tests.
“I get asked that a lot, especially from my family because they worry and think I’m more at risk. We’ve got all of the measures in place. PPE is available,” she said.
Healthcare professionals redeployed
Occupational Therapist Krista Hammond was redeployed to help out with testing in April.
“It’s extremely different from my normal occupational therapy job,” she said.
“I was a little bit apprehensive at first – just worrying, like anyone else, I was worried about COVID-19 and didn’t want to catch it,” she said.
“Once I started doing it, I became less worried because, as you can see, the amount of PPE we have on and how diligent we are with changing it, it took a lot of my anxiety about it away.”
Hammond, who works at testing sites three times a week and at her day job twice a week, said she’s gained some insight during her redeployment.
“It just goes to show you how important healthcare is, especially public healthcare, just to be able to meet the needs of the entire community,” she said.
Hammond does not yet know how long she will be redeployed.
“It’s a change of pace and it’s something we get used to. We’ll continue to meet the needs of the community as long as we need to to fight COVID-19,” she said.
“I feel like I’m trying to make a difference in this.”