Assessment centre opened at Kettle and Stony Point
Kettle and Stony Point First Nation got its own assessment centre for COVID-19 this week.
The community southwest of Grand Bend has had three confirmed cases of the pandemic coronavirus-caused disease. Everyone has recovered, Chief Jason Henry said.
By opening the Kettle Point Health Centre for testing by appointment and referral from Tuesdays to Thursdays, Henry hopes it will make it easier for band members to get tested, he said.
“It’s 45 minutes to Sarnia,” he said. “If you don’t have a vehicle, it’s difficult finding a ride or hiring a ride.”
Henry made the journey to Sarnia recently for testing after he experienced symptoms, he said. His test results were negative for COVID-19.
“It’s difficult to access health care when you have to travel 45 minutes on a good day without a pandemic,” he said. “With a pandemic, it just makes everything more difficult.”
There are also underlying, longstanding trust issues between First Nation people in Canada and government systems such as health care and justice, he said.
“So if you can talk to a person from your own community, and you can go for a test in your own community with someone you’re familiar with and you trust, it makes that access to health care on any given day much easier,” he said.
Testing started Monday for people living in the First Nation’s assisted living facility before expanding more broadly to the community, he said.
A strong working relationship with the First Nation and Lambton public health has been forged amid the pandemic, he said.
“I look forward to a bright future working with our partners.”
The assessment centre is the third in Sarnia-Lambton to open.
One in Sarnia opened in March and another in Petrolia opened in April.
It’s hard to say if more will ever open in the Sarnia-Lambton area, medical officer of health Dr. Sudit Ranade said.
“I think the question is not really about whether there would be more sites but to make sure people who are symptomatic can get tested within a reasonable time frame,” he said.
So far there’s been “very little delay” between when a person presents with symptoms to when they get tested, he said.
Testing is done in partnership with public health, Bluewater Health, emergency medical services, the assessment centres and primary-care practitioners, he said.
As of Wednesday, 3,469 tests had been received, with six per cent returning positive for COVID-19.
There were 192 cases in Sarnia-Lambton, including 16 deaths and 122 people who’ve recovered.
Checkpoints at Kettle and Stony Point meanwhile were reinstated April 17, Henry said, with Anishinabek Police and volunteer firefighters this time instead of community volunteers.
They were originally established in March to mitigate COVID-19 spread and then taken down briefly amid concerns about people’s conduct at the checkpoints, Henry has said.