Echuca Regional Hospital has provided more details on the merged COVID-19 testing and vaccination site that will begin operation at the former Echuca South Primary School.
ERH issued a statement about the new McKenzie St, Echuca, site last week, explaining the new drive-through testing and vaccination facility was expected to open in late January.
In a statement to The Riv ERH said its reasons behind the relocation of the facility were to allow the public the opportunity to get tested promptly and to protect testing staff from extreme weather.
The statement said medical staff members were required to wear full PPE when testing, which is proving difficult for staff to sustain working outside throughout the heat.
It said exposure to the heat had resulted in the testing clinic having to be closed earlier on some days therefore affecting the community’s ability to get tested.
Interim chief executive officer Robyn Lindsay said the new facility would be operated in a way to minimise impact on local residents, including specific traffic-management strategies.
“It will also provide a safe, all-weather environment for ERH to provide services, minimising the need to interrupt service delivery due to heat and extreme weather,” Ms Lindsay said
“Public health measures to protect our community during the COVID pandemic are underpinned by accessible and dependable testing and vaccination.
“The existing site at Rotary Park is very difficult to operate on hot days, which is not a sustainable situation during summer.
“The weather has provided a real challenge for the team at the current testing site, which in turn limits our opening hours and creates extended wait times for the public.”
A petition against the relocation has been signed and presented to the ERH acting chief executive Glenn Howlett.
The petition has been signed by residents in nearby streets such as Boyle, Cyprus, Poplar and South Sts.
A number of residents from those streets are primarily concerned that the new facility will inhibit the ability to park and create a disturbance to traffic flow.
One area of specific concern is the width of streets such as Boyle St, which resident Nicole Connelly said was “only 6.8 metres wide. If a vehicle is parked on the kerb, there is one lane of traffic”.
ERH said a three-page document providing an outline of the development at Echuca South Primary School had been issued, which explained the reasoning behind the relocation and that the facility would be situated so as to reduce the impact on nearby residents and local traffic.
Testing facilities at Rotary Park and the vaccination centre at VIVID in Echuca will be carrying on and continuing their services until the move becomes permanent.
Following the relocation Rotary Park will be accessible for community use again.