It was an exciting day at the Strathcona Paper Centre in Napanee as local officials and members of the media gathered for a tour of the new COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the facility.
Within a ballroom at the location, Greater Napanee Mayor Marg Isbester, Dr. Kim Morrison, Chief of Staff at Lennox and Addington County General Hospital, Mark Schjerning, Chief of Emergency Services at the County of Lennox and Addington, and Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health for KFL&A Public Health, all welcomed the media, showing them how the facility would operate when the COVID-19 vaccination clinic opened to the public for its first 80 vaccine recipients. Once up and running, the location will administer approximately 150 to 180 vaccinations a day, Dr. Moore shared.
While the clinic is similar to the one currently operating at the INVISTA Centre in Kingston, there are a few differences. In Kingston, those receiving the vaccinations are taken to a seat and table for their shot; in Napanee, those receiving vaccinations are still taken to a seat, but those administering the shots have trolleys and come to each person, those with Public Health explained.
Those who want to attend the clinic for their vaccination must be booked through the provincial appointment booking program online, through the telephone number listed here (if they do not have internet access or someone they trust with internet access to book the appointment for them), or through calling KFL&A Public Health (only if they do not have a health card number). All those speaking at the event underlined that the provincial online booking tool is the most simple and effective way for those who are eligible to book appointments, and that other booking methods should only be used if necessary.
Once booked, those with appointments are to arrive no earlier than 10 minutes prior to the appointment. This is to prevent crowding at the entrance as individuals are screened for COVID-19 prior to entering the clinic. Those with appointments are also assessed by on-site nurses to ensure that they don’t have any contraindications to being immunized. They then receive the shot, as well as documentation of the vaccination, if needed (or it can be emailed), and are booked for their second appointment. In total, the appointments should be 15 to 30 minutes.
For Mayor Isbester, offering the use of the Strathcona Paper Centre for the vaccination clinic was a move she and Council were happy to support, she expressed.
“It’s a different setup than we’re used to seeing in here, but I’m very glad and I’m very happy to be able to welcome people to Greater Napanee and the County of Lennox and Addington,” she said, noting that the partnership between Greater Napanee, L&A County General Hospital, the Emergency Services of the County of Lennox and Addington, and KFL&A Public Health has been a collaborative one aimed at moving forward and looking after one another.
“I’ll be very glad when it’s over. But I can’t say enough about KFL&A Public Health and our own hospital, doctors and our frontline workers,” she continued.
“My council and I and our staff are happy to see this move forward. We sort of see this as, hopefully, the last step to see us going in the right direction.”
Chief Schjerning spoke of the role L&A Emergency Services will play at the clinic.
“We’ve committed to providing a staffed ambulance with two paramedics at every clinic, so we’ll be functioning in two roles, primarily working as immunizers and whatever other roles we can to support the clinic, and in the event of, we do have a fully equipped vehicle and we’re able to provide emergency care supporting the physicians at the clinics and, if needed, to transport to the hospital,” he said.
“I’m hopeful that we won’t be needed in that capacity, but we’re here to provide that if and when it’s needed.”
Dr. Morrison thanked all those people who helped to put the clinic together, noting that, from a primary care perspective, it’s been a very challenging year.
“We really see this as the absolute piece of hope that is going to bring us forward into our next year,” she said, underlining the importance of the partnerships between all of the parties involved.
“This is truly what we feel is the most important thing any of us is probably going to do in our careers, to get vaccines into arms as efficiently and quickly we can.”
Finally, Dr. Moore spoke to the important roll the clinic will play in increasing the overall number of those vaccinated in the KFL&A region.
“As of today, in KFL&A, we’ve immunized 21,000 People with Pfizer and/or Moderna vaccines. We also, with our pharmacy partners, immunized 5,000 individuals, so we’re at 26,000 [immunized] to date,” he said with a smile, gesturing to his colleagues and noting that it is “brilliant” that the region has medical and health communities that are so willing to work together.
“I think that this facility alone we could ramp up to over 700 vaccines a day, obviously depending on supply that’s provided to us,” said Moore. “And so together in KFL&A, through our partnerships with pharmacy, primary care, our hospital at Kingston Health Sciences Center, and our primary care partners here, we can immunize up to 10,000 people a day if we get supplies. And that will best protect our communities very, very rapidly.”
With files from Cris Vilela.