It was a busy Wednesday for health-care workers in Dorchester as the Middlesex-London Paramedic Service officially launched its mobile COVID-19 testing unit.
The pop-up clinic was scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the town’s Outdoor Recreation Complex.
By 10:42 a.m., the MLPS announced via Twitter that they had reached capacity for the day.
Similar sights have been seen at London’s two COVID-19 assessment centres, which have reached capacity nearly every day since mid-September.
Debra Patton arrived at the pop-up clinic roughly an hour before it opened and ended up near the back of the line.
The Dorchester resident sought testing on Wednesday for herself and her father, who needs a test before he can visit a friend in a nursing home.
Patton says she was surprised by the long line.
“I figured it’d be maybe like 50 people, there’s probably at least over 100 here,” said Patton.
“There’s got to be a better way to do it for people to not have to wait all day to get tested.”
Londoner Michael Powers came out to Dorchester seeking a test for his son Chase, who was sent home from school on Tuesday after getting the sniffles.
Powers said he first went to the London assessment centre at Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre at 8:15 a.m.
“That was going to be impossible, there were people that had been there for an hour and a half waiting,” said Powers.
The father eventually made out to Dorchester where he was 37th in line.
“My little guy’s only five-years-old. This is our first experience for getting tested and I hope it goes OK for him,” said Powers.
With the school year now well underway, Powers added that he wasn’t surprised by the long line in Dorchester.
“Most of us in line here are parents that have children that need to be tested.”
Allison Martin drove over from south London with her two children hoping that the mobile testing site would be less busy than what’s been seen at the city’s two assessment centres.
“I was debating coming later… I was advised by multiple people to come very early so I’m glad I took their advice,” said Martin.
The London mother said it was stressful dealing with how long it takes to get a test, adding that she was trying to work from her cellphone while waiting in line on Wednesday.
“I’m really worried about how the rest of the fall and winter are going to play out given that most of the school population will be sick,” said Martin.
Zorra Township mother Jessica Pilatzkie arrived with her son on Wednesday after he developed a sore stomach at school.
While Pilatzkie was met with a long line in Dorchester, she says her main concerns lie with the test results and getting her son back in school.
“I guess it’s everything everybody’s saying online, just long waits,” said Pilatzkie.
“We’re having a good chat and watching some downloaded Netflix. If you’re prepped it’s not too bad.”
The MLPS’ mobile testing unit marked the first time that Middlesex County residents were able to access testing without having to travel to London’s two assessment centres.
When the unit reached capacity before opening, Thames Centre Deputy Mayor and Middlesex County Councillor Kelly Elliott said on Twitter that it highlighted a need for increased testing in the county.
As of Wednesday, the mobile testing unit is scheduled to be in Lucan on Thursday and in Thorndale on Friday. The following week will see stops in Strathroy, Komoka and Ilderton on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
“We’re in constant communication with the City of London, the County of Middlesex and the surrounding municipalities,” said Miranda Bothwell, the public education coordinator for MLPS.
“I have no doubts that with continued communication that we will have more (pop-up clinics) in the near future… wherever we’re needed, we’ll go there.”