Tricia Anderson is pictured outside the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at the Beechgrove Complex. She has shoulder length, dark brown hair with bangs, and is wearing a black jacket on top of a black shirt.
Tricia Anderson became the lead nurse at the COVID-19 Assessment Centre in July 2020. She was only planning to help out for a short period, but stayed on because it was such a positive work experience.
Matthew Manor/KHSC

In July 2020, Tricia Anderson headed to the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at the Beechgrove Complex.

A professor with St. Lawrence College’s nursing program, she was joining the ‘Swab Squad’ as the lead nurse on weekends.

“The academic year was finished and our then associate dean was supportive of us contributing to the pandemic where we could,” recalls Anderson.

It wasn’t the first time the registered nurse would be sporting a Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) ID badge.

In fact, she’s no stranger to our organization at all, having worked with us from 1990 to 2014.

And those more than two decades of nursing experience helped the squad crush every curveball the pandemic threw.

“It was definitely a steady flow of people when I started and then blossomed into more than 600 people a day. When it’s that busy you just focus on the person in front of you and get it done.

“The staff I worked with were great. We came together from different backgrounds to meet a need. It didn’t matter what was coming next, staff would step up and embrace it, and even offered ideas on how to make things flow better because they were invested in the outcome.”

Let’s keep it real, there were stressful days but Anderson focused on the positives.

“I thought I would only help out for a short period, but the assessment center has a great leadership team who created an environment that was easy and enjoyable to work in, even during stressful times.

“In addition to working with great people and community partners, it was also a learning opportunity and I used a different nursing skill set that I don’t normally use at the college.”

The centre may be closing, but its legacy will no doubt have a lasting impact in the community.

“The assessment centre is an exemplar of teamwork, creativity and adaptability. It was a once in a lifetime experience to be that involved in a pandemic response.”

And Anderson isn’t turning in that ID badge any time soon. She’s staying on with KHSC in a casual role at the Urgent Care Centre.