by Fr RON BENNETT
They say every cloud has a silver lining.
When St Teresa’s Pro Cathedral Church in Karori, Wellington, closed its doors for Masses at the beginning of lockdown, parishioners expected it would not be used again for quite a while.
However, the Karori Medical Centre were looking for a suitable venue to conduct a Covid-19 community-based assessment centre, primarily to screen and assess people for testing, and test those who meet the criteria. Dr Jeff Lowe, from the medical centre, said that one Saturday morning they were doing swabs at the centre carpark. It was wet and windy and they realised they couldn’t carry on like that. They looked around for a suitable venue and found St Teresa’s Church to be ideal.
St Teresa’s proved to be a perfect match – with a driveway up one side of the church, a covered drive-through next to the church foyer, which allowed people to be tested in their cars, then to either park and rest, or continue to exit down the other side of the church. A sort of McDonald’s drive-through, as one wit commented.
It was important for the medical centre as they wanted to do their testing where there was more space, and easy movement, and to keep potentially well people away from potentially unwell people. The foyer also had two doors, which meant it was possible to have a “clean” area and a “dirty” area for staff to work in. As well as the foyer, another room was available if needed.
Dr Lowe mentioned that the battle to beat Covid-19 was being fought out in the community and out in general practice in people getting swabs and identifying Covid early and places such as St Teresa’s were perfect for this. He said using St Teresa’s was a godsend. Since tests began on April 6, more than 629 people have been tested, between 30 and 40 a day, some coming from outside the area because of the convenience. For the parishioners of St Teresa’s, there was a real feeling that their church was being used for a good purpose. Testing began on April 6 and concluded on May 22.