Behind the scenes: Kingston's COVID-19 Assessment Centre

News / General
By J Pereira/M Manor

For more than a year and a half, Kingston’s COVID Assessment Centre has played a major role in protecting our community from COVID-19. But as the number of cases continue to grow in our region, due to the Omicron variant, the AC team is now busier than ever before. Together with our partners at KFLA Public Health and Frontenac Paramedics, along with many others, nearly 1000 people a day are receiving a PCR swab through KHSC. We invite you to meet with just a few members of the Assessment Centre team, the people behind the yellow gowns and personal protective equipment, working on the front lines of the pandemic this holiday season.

Amoli

What is your job and how long have you been at the Assessment Centre?
I am registration clerk and I’ve been working here about 10 months.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
My team, my coworkers, we are like a family here. With everything happening out there, I know it’s taking a heavy toll on everyone here at the Assessment Centre, but we try to help each other in any way we can. Any time or day they need me, I’m here.

What are you looking forward to most when the pandemic is over?
I’m looking forward to hanging out with my friends and having dinner at a restaurant with friends and family and travelling back to see my parents.

What did you do before you joined the Assessment Centre?
I did my bachelors of medicine and surgery in India.

Angie

What is your job and how long have you been at the Assessment Centre?
I am the lead nurse here at the Assessment Centre and I was redeployed in June 2020 when I was the charge nurse on Davies 5 unit at KGH.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
It’s the team, it’s definitely the team. The people are keen, they are generally happy to be here and just want to get the job done, so lots of good team work. The first week I started here was during the outbreak at a nail salon and I remember everyone here just jumped in, no questions asked and just started swabbing. We were on the floor in full PPE from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. to accommodate the numbers we were seeing but I didn’t hear one complaint from any of the staff. We just had to come together and do what we needed to do to help.

What are you looking forward to most when the pandemic is over?
Oh my gosh, just travelling within Ontario. I haven’t been able to go too far because of where we work, I can’t take that risk. But even just going away for a weekend and not having to worry about the masks and all that kind of stuff would be great. And for my kids going back to hockey, they really miss it.

Michael

What is your job and how long have you been at the Assessment Centre?
I am a paramedic and have been deployed as a swab tester here at the Assessment Centre since June 2021.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the people here and interacting with the people that come in for testing. A lot of times people are very anxious when they come in and we try and calm them down and reassure them that everything is going to be ok as far as the testing is concerned. I know people are now anxious now that Omicron is here and we just try to support them.

What are you looking forward to most when the pandemic is over?
Our family does a bit of travelling and we’d like to get back to that. It would be nice to travel internationally again.

Shyne

What is your job and how long have you been at the Assessment Centre?
I am a Registration Clerk and I started over a year ago when we were back at the Leon’s Centre.

What is your favourite part of the job?
I enjoy the most working with my colleagues, they’re all super friendly and helpful, we are more like a family here. It’s also great to help the community and test people.

What are you looking forward to most when the pandemic is over?
I did a doctorate program in medicine in the Ukraine and once the pandemic is over I want to write my exams and try to get back into practice.

What did you do before you joined the Assessment Centre?
I worked as a junior doctor in India

Marjorie

What is your job and how long have you been at the Assessment Centre?
I am the PPE officer here and I started on October 8, 2020.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love everyone that I work with. I really do. One day one of my coworkers came up to me and said, ok “Marj-in-charge” what do you want me to do today? And the nickname stuck and now I even have a hoodie with the nickname written on it.

What are you looking forward to most when the pandemic is over?
I was unemployed when I got this job, because I was laid off from my previous employer after 18 years. So I am hoping when the pandemic is over to apply and find a job at the hospital.

Jerry

What is your job and how long have you been at the Assessment Centre?
I am a nurse here at the Assessment Centre and I have been here since June 20, 2020.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Mostly the people I work with. It’s a good group that I work with and we have a positive experience most days. We do have our ‘down’ days occasionally and on those down days we just lean on one another and really get support from each another. Whenever you have a bad day you can always open up to someone else on the team and they are willing to listen.

What are you looking forward to most when the pandemic is over?
Travel. I want to go anywhere outside of this yellow gym.

Cindy

What is your job and how long have you been at the Assessment Centre?
I am the director of the Assessment Centre and Community Partnerships so I work with all of our partners here, KFLA public Health, Frontenac paramedics and community mental health agencies.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Every day is a new day, there is lots to learn, its’ fun and interesting. I remember the first Monday we were here at Beechgrove and it was a really hot day. An 18 month old accidentally pulled the fire alarm, so we all had to go outside and we ended up swabbing out on the front lawn just to get everyone through. It was chaotic, but fun.

What are you looking forward to most when the pandemic is over?
I am most looking forward to normal weekends again.

Jennifer

What is your job and how long have you been at the Assessment Centre?
I have been here since last July and I have done everything here so that we keep operating as smoothly as possible

What do you enjoy most about your job?
There is a lot of different situations that come up and we can always impact someone positively and help them no matter the situation.

What are you looking forward to most when the pandemic is over?
I think I have been lucky, I am one of the few people who have positively been impacted by the pandemic. I was a school bus monitor before I joined the team here, but with all of the skills I have gained working here, I have learned so much and the future is kind of an unknown.