Volunteers administer nearly 300 COVID-19 tests during area’s first pop-up clinic


  • <p>KEITH CORCORAN, PHOTO</p><p>A man enters Cineplex Cinemas in Bridgewater for a COVID-19 test.</p>

A total of 299 people dropped into the cinema complex in Bridgewater over a two-day period to participate in the area's first Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA)-sanctioned pop-up COVID-19 test clinic.

No appointment was necessary, and the clinic yielded no positive cases.

The testing, which took place for five hours each day, January 16 and 17, is part of an overall education and monitoring scenario when it comes to the virus and an effort to get the public used to temporary testing areas.

Dr. John Ross, the medical director of PRAXES Medical Group, the Halifax firm partnering with the NSHA on the rapid testing services front, said COVID-19 isn't leaving anytime soon even with vaccines in play. That's part of why testing is vital in communities, such as ones along the South Shore where cases of infections appear to be small compare to other places.

"We're trying to normalize and make it as accessible as possible," Ross told LighthouseNOW about the testing.

Health officials were looking for asymptomatic people age 16-and-over. And they didn't identify anyone with symptoms, or anyone who had visited at a potential exposure site. Nor was there anyone who had close contact with a person with COVID-19 or left the so-called Atlantic bubble in the previous 14 days.

Cineplex provided its space for free while the nearby mall also provided tables and chairs at no cost.

A call for volunteers to help staff both days of the clinic proved successful. There were about a dozen on site each day who were tasked with screening, registration and swabbing duties.

"All of those roles filled up quickly," Ross said, noting there was a waiting list of people willing to help. Personal protective equipment and training was provided before the volunteer shifts.

Angela Henhoeffer, the regional emergency management coordinator for Lunenburg County's five municipalities, is credited for successfully pulling resources together in short order.

"She was magical," Ross said.

One of the few things organizers would change is the ability to get the clinic's more exposure, including additional media attention.

"We need more signage because we do pop-up with relatively short notice," Ross added.

The final number of tests over the two days met the target health officials hoped to reach.

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