Markham YMCA opens as COVID-19 testing site

In partnership with Carefirst Seniors & Community Services Association, Markham Stouffville Hospital, and Health for All Family Health Team, this initiative at the Markham YMCA comes as a response to rising cases in Ontario.

On Saturday January 30, the YMCA of Greater Toronto (YMCA) temporarily opened a portion of its Markham YMCA health and fitness location as a COVID-19 testing clinic. The effort aims to increase COVID-19 testing sites in the community and encourage people living in the southeast Markham area to get tested if they are experiencing symptoms or believe they have come in contact with someone who has tested positive. The Y is working in partnership with Carefirst, Markham Stouffville Hospital, and Health for All Family Health Team, in launching the pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic in the community. The clinic will run every Monday and Saturday, by appointment, or walk-in, between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. from January 30 to March 29, 2021.

Along with the increasing case counts in Ontario, certain communities, including southeast Markham, have been identified as having higher COVID-19 positivity rates. Evidence shows racially diverse, newcomer and low-income communities are impacted significantly by COVID-19. These communities often experience certain barriers that make it more difficult for them to safely physical distance or self-isolate. These barriers include an inability to work from home, or housing insecurity if unable to work due to a positive diagnosis.

In addition to using part of the Markham YMCA as a testing facility, Carefirst will provide the following services for the community:

  • Community outreach and education to increase awareness of COVID-19, to help reduce transmission and provide necessary information about available supports and services, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Wraparound supports to connect individuals with necessary services needed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The YMCA of Greater Toronto has worked hard throughout the past year to provide for our community in any way we can,” says Medhat Mahdy, President & CEO of the YMCA of Greater Toronto. “The impact of this virus is not equal and has shown us that different communities require better support. With our heightened focus on equity, especially as it relates to those impacted by COVID-19, offering a portion of the Markham YMCA as a testing facility gave us the opportunity to do our part to reach communities.”

“Carefirst is privileged to have Ontario Health and the Central Local Health Integration Network invite our organization to take the lead and work with over 20 service partners in the roll-out of the High Priority Communities Program in southeast Markham, one of the hot zone areas hardest hit by COVID-19,” says Helen Leung, CEO of Carefirst. “Evidence shows that the pandemic has had an impact on racialized and newcomer communities more significantly than others. These communities face complex barriers to services so they require specific supports. We feel confident about the team’s capacity to improve access to care in these neighbourhoods.”

To ensure the safety of the community and those who visit the Markham YMCA for testing, strict COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place, including:

  • Designated testing area within the Markham YMCA, built using hospital infection prevention and control (IPAC) specifications to ensure safety and separation of the swabbing space from the rest of the building, including a separate entrance. The space has been carefully designed so that the Y can reopen to the public, if the government allows, while the testing area remains active until the end of March.
  • Appropriate training and PPE provided to protect the Y staff and all testing and support staff who will be accessing the space for testing purposes.
  • Coordination of the IPAC review of the space before and during program operation to ensure the space is designed and operated in a safe manner.
  • Cleaning services provided by an IPAC-certified hospital cleaning service in combination with Carefirst staff. Cleaning will occur every hour throughout the day and will follow York Region Public Health protocols and regulations.

Walk-in appointments are available, however, wait times will vary and booking by appointment is preferred to help with physical distancing on site.

For more information or to book an appointment, call (416) 646-5108 or visit carefirstontario.ca.

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