City and Public Health offer mobile testing clinic at Belle Park

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health and the City of Kingston facilitated a mobile health and services clinic at the Belle Park homeless encampment on Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2020.

A registered nurse and doctor from public health offered COVID-19 and sexually transmitted infection (STI) tests, as well as the opportunity to for other immunizations, according to the City of Kingston. A dental assistant was also available to advise how to navigate access to dental hygiene, and representatives from Housing and Social Services and Ontario Works were reported to be on site also providing information to those residing in the park.

Residents of the Belle Park homeless encampment wait at the entrance to a mobile health and wellness clinic offered from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2020.

A small line was visible outside the city-owned Belle Park Clubhouse this morning, where services were offered. 

Workers on-site would not confirm how many people had presented for testing, however one resident of the Belle Park camp, Kristine, estimated about five had participated when the Kingstonist stopped by at 10:30 a.m.

“That was great!,” said one man emerging from the building after his COVID-19 test. “Sneezy, but great.”

Robert Hosier from the City of Kingston confirmed that KFL&A Public Health staff agreed to remain on site until every camper who wanted to be seen was assessed.

According to KFL&A Public Health, COVID-19 testing has been offered to the residents in the recent past, and Street Health has also provided a mobile clinic before for some testing. This has been a joint effort of Addictions and Mental Health Services, Public Health, Street Health, Home Base Housing, and the City of Kingston. The service providers plan to offer another clinic in the future.

The City released an update on the Belle Park encampment on Friday, Jun. 19, 2020, stating they were working on “improving the short-term basic, health and safety needs of the campers by providing enhanced access to amenities and ongoing visits from the City and its partners.”

“The City has opened the Belle Park Clubhouse, increasing garbage collection, installed sharps bin for needle collection, and other site improvement improvements to increase the health and safety of the temporary site. Regular visits are also occurring from Public Health, KFR, Bylaw, Home Base Housing KCHC – Street Health and many other agencies,” the statement said.

Belle Park has served as a City-sanctioned, temporary homeless encampment since early April. Public Health visits the camp regularly to monitor for signs of infectious diseases, and community outreach workers stop by twice per day. The City announced in June that all residents would need to relocate from the park by Tuesday, Jul. 7, 2020. The City is expected to provide an update on the Belle Park encampment to City Council meeting at a special meeting being held tonight.

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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