New Brunswick

COVID-19 testing centre suddenly moved from one end of Saint John to another

A Saint John councillor is raising concerns after a COVID-19 testing centre was abruptly moved from the exhibition grounds to a residential neighbourhood in the city's north end.

Councillor questions wisdom of moving centre to old north end

In a statement to CBC News, Jean Daigle of the Horizon Health Network said the move to the north end was made in part to provide a more accessible location to 'the most vulnerable segments of the city’s population.' (Nova Scotia Health Authority)

A Saint John councillor is raising concerns after a COVID-19 testing centre was abruptly moved from the exhibition grounds to a residential neighbourhood in the city's north end.

Coun. Donna Reardon said she was surprised to hear of the move and so were doctors that spoke to her about it.

"They were curious as to why it was moved and they were worried for the same reasons that I [am]," said Reardon.

The testing centre was supposed to be at Exhibition Park in east Saint John, a location Reardon said is away from residences and offers plenty of space.

Now the testing site will be at the North End Wellness Centre on Victoria Street. 

In a statement to CBC News, Jean Daigle, the vice-president community for the Horizon Health Network, said the move was made in part to "provide a more central, accessible location to the most vulnerable segments of the city's population."

Daigle said the new location is "allowing for more immediate access to the technology, equipment, staffing and other resources required to operate the centre." 

Access to testing centres is only by appointment after a person gets a referral through Tele-Care 811.

Community impacts

Reardon is concerned about the centre being set up in a low-income residential neighbourhood.

"People who live in poverty don't have the resources lots of times to be running out buying hand sanitizers and, you know, all these other things that people are using to protect themselves and hoarding, you know, food and all this other stuff," said Reardon.

"If you're going into an at–risk neighbourhood with something that is potentially devastating, like, do you want to do that?"

Saint John Coun. Donna Reardon suggested the move from east Saint John wasn't well thought through. (CBC)

Reardon also fears that the smaller location, where social distancing is more difficult, will make it less likely people who need to be tested will go and get tested.

"If people don't feel that they could go to a testing centre without increasing their risks, will they go?," said Reardon.

"And if they don't go, how does that impact the rest of the public."

About the Author

Jordan Gill

Reporter

Jordan Gill is a CBC reporter based out of Fredericton. He can be reached at jordan.gill@cbc.ca.

With files from Connell Smith

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