A new satellite COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Queen’s University is opening this week as part of the University’s ongoing efforts to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in Kingston.
The Assessment Centre is located adjacent to Student Wellness Services in Mitchell Hall. Operated by Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), the facility has the capacity to perform approximately 50 to 60 tests per day, by appointment only. It will operate Monday to Friday, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
When asked to account for the limited operating hours, KHSC President and CEO Dr. David Pichora explained that staffing is a challenge.
“Finding the people who have the skills to do this stuff and getting them trained up is not an overnight event,” Pichora said.
Testing is available to Queen’s students who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, have travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days, or require tests for contact tracing purposes, as advised by Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington Public Health, and Queen’s Student Wellness Services.
Students can also still access the Primary Assessment Centre at the Leon’s Centre in downtown Kingston, which has processed 2975 tests in the past week. Dr. Pichora said opening the satellite location will allow KHSC to “load balance” the demand across Kingston.
“Providing on-campus testing to students is vital to the quick identification of cases, quick treatment, and immediate isolation to prevent spread of the virus,” Pichora said. “It will also help Public Health to characterize the prevalence, spread, and contagiousness of COVID-19 in our region—the faster students are tested, the safer the entire community will be. And the satellite will ease volumes in the Primary Assessment Centre.”
“We believe the launch of this campus Assessment Centre is an important part of the overall plan to combat COVID-19 in our community,” says Mark Green, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “Its opening reinforces our commitment to be a proactive and responsible community partner at all times.”
All students who test positive for COVID-19 will be notified by Public Health, which will also coordinate testing of contacts with KHSC.
Queen’s says the testing facility is the latest step in their overall “return-to-campus strategy,” a plan to gradually and safely return the university to normal operations. As part of this effort, Queen’s continues remote delivery of classes this fall for most students, is limiting the capacity of its residences to under 50 per cent, requiring mandatory face masks, and ensuring physical distancing.
Queen’s has also begun a phased reopening of the Athletics and Recreation Centre with new health and safety protocols in place, and has added a COVID-19 assessment tool to its on-campus mobile safety app, SeQure.
The student population has drawn some negative attention in recent weeks after groups of young people converging in parks led to the temporary closure of Gord Downie Pier. A Queen’s professor also published an open letter to the university’s administration over the Labour Day long weekend, calling for more action to prevent student partying.
Queen’s is strongly encouraging students from areas with active outbreaks or community transmission to get tested before travelling to Kingston and asking all students to limit contact with others for 14 days after arrival. Everyone is also encouraged to follow hand hygiene, mask wearing, physical distancing, and other public health guidance to limit COVID-19 spread.
Queen’s University students can book an appointment at the on-campus COVID-19 Assessment Centre by calling Student Wellness Services at (613) 533-2506.