In early December, Kingston made national headlines as the Omicron variant spread at unprecedented rates through the community. What ensued was an impressive and rapid response from KFL&A Public Health and community partners. In this Q&A, we talk with Brandi Timpson, Emergency Response Manager to discuss what happened behind the scenes at the City of Kingston.
Q. When did the City realize it would need to open its facilities to COVID-19 testing and vaccines?
BT: The City recognized early on that in order to slow the local spread of COVID-19, a community wide response was essential. And over one year ago, in January 2021, this was confirmed when the City received a request from KFL&A Public Health for help finding a location suitable for a mass vaccination clinic.
Q. What had to first happen behind the scenes for this to occur?
BT: First, we had to find a location. A tour of several City facilities occurred to determine a space that would work best for the volume of people who would need to receive vaccinations. One location identified early on was the INVISTA Centre. Following that, City staff were tasked with preparing sites. At INVISTA, this saw teams removing ice, monitoring the building’s temperature and adjusting so they were consistent with what was required. City Rec and Leisure staff along with Emergency Management staff worked with Public Health to set up the site, installing the appropriate barricades, tables, chairs, as well as ensuring the site was fully accessible to make sure access was amenable for all. A final tour of INVISTA occurred with City and KFL&A Public Health staff before opening. City staff were also called upon to assist at the clinic, performing several duties ranging from screeners to runners. They first participated in an orientation and training session with Public Health prior to filling these roles. It was truly amazing to see everyone come together the way they did!