Western Sydney opens three COVID-19 testing clinics in a week

WSLHD community health nurse Brenda Armstrong at the Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral, Harris Park.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) has responded to the evolving COVID-19 situation by opening three pop-up testing clinics this week for the ease and convenience of local residents.

Parramatta Community Health Centre, Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral in Harris Park and a second clinic at Blacktown Hospital were all recognised as priority areas based on new cases and local demand.

The WSLHD Integrated and Community Health (ICH) team sprang into action to open more testing locations in addition to the existing hospital-based and drive-through clinics.

WSLHD chief executive Graeme Loy praised all the staff testing people on the front line and working behind the scenes to make the clinics possible.

“I’m pleased our teams have been able to respond so quickly to the increasing community demand and hotspots. We’re testing more people than ever before,” Graeme said.

“I’d also like to thank the Western Sydney Primary Health Network, Stockland, Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral, St Vincent’s Pathology and Medlab Pathology for their assistance.”

ICH chronic care manager Joanne Medlin has been running the Stockland Merrylands drive-through clinic since it opened two months ago, and opened the pop-up clinic at Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral yesterday with less than 24 hours’ notice.

“We’re being quick and responsive to daily demand as new hot spots occur, including opening pop-up clinics to serve local communities in particular areas,” Joanne said.

“One of the big challenges is finding staff who are trained to swab people. We use a combination of WSLHD, agency, casual and private pathology staff. It’s about bringing a team together with the common cause of meeting the needs of the community.”

Merrylands clinic team leader Vishnu Arunasalam had his year turned upside down when he changed from chronic disease nursing to managing a team in a car park.

“It’s been a big learning experience. Here we are seeing the community reaction every day, facing the anxiety and fear. Part of the job is reassuring people and giving them the time and information they need,” Vishnu said.

“As healthcare workers we’re used to a controlled environment. This is very different and there’s a lot of challenges, but the staff have embraced the responsibility and are excited to be part of it.

“Collectively we all have our part to play. Everyone is making sacrifices this year. But whatever you’re missing out on, it’s not worth getting COVID.”

Joanne said staff from across WSLHD have put their hands up to be trained in swabbing to assist with our district’s COVID-19 response this year.

“It is a challenge and I think it takes a special kind of person. I’m an ED registered nurse by background so maybe I’m an adrenaline junkie,” Joanne said.

“The team needs to be adaptive, responsive and resilient. We work in a lot of different conditions, from undercover car parks to out in the sun. It is tiring but I like the challenge.”

Testing is now available at 16 locations across Western Sydney LHD – find your nearest location here: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/clinics.aspx

Everyone should get tested at the first sign of symptoms including a sore throat, cough, fever or fatigue.