A DRIVE-through test centre for Covid-19 will start testing this morning (Tuesday) in Tinryland.
The local Gaelic football club is the venue and the development follows a massive voluntary effort from Tinryland GFC over the weekend. Around 20 club members, including local tradespeople, volunteered their time and skills to get the grounds ready for the test centre.
“The HSE came to us on the Friday and we almost had the centre up before they left! Lads just came in to help; they were absolutely amazing,” said club chairperson Bernard Mullen.
There will be a testing staff of four on each shift, while three Tinryland club members will act as security and direct cars.
“You never get out of the car. You drive in, show your appointment and drive along. The car park is zoned out into a one-way system, like a go-kart track,” said Mr Mullen. “There is a big army tent and you drive underneath it. The nurses come out and do their job and the car drives out, back out the gate.”
The service is being provided on an appointment-only basis via a GP referral. The HSE stresses that this service is only for people who are showing symptoms and who have been referred by their GP and not for the “worried well”.
“This is important, so that the service is not overloaded and to ensure that the health services are in a position to provide it for those who need it most,” says the HSE.
Only the person in the car with the appointment will be tested.
The Tinryland centre will be able to test one person every ten minutes and it will run initially from 10am to 6pm. There is potential for this to be scaled up. The testing staff are understood to be from the southeast region. Mr Mullen said the club grounds were ideal due to the privacy and the area was screened off. There had been issues in other test centres in the country with members of the public taking photos.
Mr Mullen said a call for help from the club on Friday was quickly answered by club members, including local businesses and tradespeople. South East Electrical came in on Saturday morning to set up lighting in the grounds and Xenon Security provided a live feed to the defence forces for security purposes. Another club member, James Dempsey of Dempsey Hardware, provided paint supplies. Plumber Peter Whelan came in to upgrade the plumbing and water. On Sunday, around 20 members of the defence forces from Kilkenny Barracks arrived at the club to set up the marquee that will facilitate the testing.
Mr Mullen said there was no hesitation in opening the grounds for testing.
“In our lifetime, we have known nothing like this, so when you get that call, you don’t think about it. You say yes, let’s get behind it and make sure it’s done. We’d love nothing better than taking this apart, getting back to training and opening the bar back up. That just ain’t life at the minute. We have to roll with what’s in front of us.”
There have been some concerns and fears locally about having the testing centre in Tinryland. Club committee member and community worker Jim Deane said everyone had to play their part.
“The club are very proud to do their bit. Unfortunately, this is an unknown area that we are in. We are all very, very nervous. We do respect the views in the area that do have concerns about this facility. But it’s a national emergency and we have to pull together for the betterment of the community. It’s about uniting as a force to help our community, our county and our country. We are in this together.”