YMCA of Greater Toronto offers Markham YMCA as COVID-19 testing facility in partnership with Carefirst, Markham Stouffville Hospital, and Health for All Family Health Team

29 January 2021

Initiative comes as a response to rising cases in Ontario in a joint effort to provide education and testing for communities with higher positivity rates

TORONTO, January 28, 2021 – This Saturday January 30, the YMCA of Greater Toronto (YMCA) will temporarily open 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 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 will be 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.

For more information on how the YMCA of Greater Toronto is stepping up during this time, visit: theystepsup.ymcagta.org.

About the YMCA of Greater Toronto

The YMCA of Greater Toronto is a charity that ignites the potential in people, helping them grow, lead and give back to their communities. For 170 years, the YMCA of Greater Toronto has provided opportunities for people to shine through a variety of programs and services including health and fitness, licensed child care, camps, employment and immigrant services, education and training, and services for youth, families and seniors. Serving diverse communities across the Greater Toronto Area with kindness, well-being, integrity, inclusiveness, respect and optimism, last year the YMCA made more than 700,000 connections across 450 locations. For more information visit ymcagta.org.

About Carefirst

Carefirst Seniors & Community Services Association is a non-profit charitable community services agency established since 1976, together with Carefirst Family Health Team (since 2007) and Carefirst Foundation (since 2006). Carefirst is committed to serving the community with the belief that “Care” for their client’s needs has always been the “first” and primary level of concern and focus. Their mission is to ensure the seniors and those in need of their services enjoy independent, enriched and quality living in the community through social, health care and supportive services.

About Markham Stouffville Hospital

Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) is one of Ontario’s leading community hospitals. Across two sites (Markham and Uxbridge) and Reactivation Care Centre (RCC), MSH provide high quality, patient-centred care to more than 435,000 patients each year. MSH offers diagnostic and emergency services and deliver clinical programs in acute care medicine and surgery, addictions and mental health, and childbirth and children’s services. MSH is also proud to be part of the Eastern York Region North Durham Ontario Health Team (OHT).

About Health for All Family Health Team

Health for All Family Health Team is an inter-professional primary care clinic. Health for All provides a wide range of primary care services including acute, chronic and preventative health care. Assisting in the testing clinic will be members of Health for All’s Community Care Team (CCT). This team is a dedicated group of interdisciplinary health professionals with the goal of improving access to health services and creating health equity within Eastern York Region. Comprised of a nurse practitioner, pharmacist, case manager, dietitian, two social workers and a health promoter, the CCT provides free services and community education to individuals and partner organizations.