photo of Dr. Erin Bearss, Tanya McDonald and James Clancy

The Hennick Family Wellness Gallery inside Mount Sinai Hospital is normally a space for quiet reflection amidst the bustle of a busy health care setting. These days, it’s a reflection of our spirit of collaboration.

Each weekday, a team of doctors, nurse practitioners and residents tests dozens of people for COVID-19 inside makeshift cubicles in the gallery. Behind the scenes, even more health care professionals are working to keep the complex operation running.
Staff wearing PPE

Dr. Erin Bearss, Associate Chief of Family Medicine, Tanya McDonald, Director of Operational Readiness, and James Clancy, operational lead for the Centre, along with Dr. Jennie Johnstone, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control, were instrumental in getting the Centre operational.

“It’s really interesting because things are happening at warp speed,” Dr. Bearss said. “Normally things that would take weeks and even months of discussion and co-ordination, we are doing, and I’m not exaggerating, in hours.”

In mid-March, Mount Sinai opened an assessment centre to serve the overflow needs for the emergency department. Less than a week later, a fully-operational Toronto Region COVID-19 Assessment Centre opened in the Hennick Family Wellness Gallery at Mount Sinai Hospital.  An impressive turnaround in the best of times and even more so given the pressure COVID-19 is putting on hospital operations.

“Everyone, right down to the cleaning staff, were just really engaged and part of the process,” said James, who normally serves as the Nursing Unit Administrator for the endoscopy clinic. “It made it really easy to transition at a speed that normally is unheard of.”

At its peak, almost 100 people a day visited the Assessment Centre for testing.  The team is looking forward to continuing to support the community as testing focuses on vulnerable populations, health care workers, caregivers and first responders.

Tanya called the Centre’s creation an example of extreme project management. In order to pull it off in just a few days, she went on a series of “road shows” with stakeholders to tackle each challenge individually.

“I’m just so proud of everybody’s work to get it done,” she said. “We huddled the morning before we opened our doors and we huddled at the end of the day and I was really fighting back tears of pride for all of the work that everyone had done.”

Find out more on the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital.

The Sinai Health Heroes story series highlights our people and their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.