Tuesday, November 10, 2009

sick of traffic?

Safety issues won’t move H1N1 clinic

Governor’s Road site will remain in use

Craig Campbell, News Staff
Published on Nov 06, 2009

Dundas Baptist Church on Governor’s Road will remain one of Hamilton’s four HINI influenza immunization clinics as long as the city still has doses of the vaccine, despite problems with traffic safety in the surrounding area.

Hamilton Police expressed concerns over the location of the main immunization clinic when it was announced. And Division 30 Inspector Bob Buck said there were traffic and pedestrian safety issues on the already controversial road right from the start.

“It became dangerous,” Inspector Buck said. “We raised that issue. We expressed concern about that location. From a traffic and pedestrian standpoint, it’s a difficult location.”

As the only immunization clinic for at-risk residents open all five days Oct. 26-30, the Dundas Baptist Church site saw the biggest influx of people by far. Hamilton Public Health Services staff say more than 8,000 people were injected with the H1N1 vaccine –that’s more than 1,600 people each day and over 280 people every hour.

But residents saw the impact as thousands of people looked for limited parking and lined up along the side of Governor’s Road waiting their turn.

“It was crazy,” said Randy Kay of the group Transportation for Livable Communities, which has been calling for safety and pedestrian improvements to Governor’s Road.

“The parking lot filled, cars parked on the side street, and cars backed up two lanes wide to Overfield. Crazy!”

He went by the Baptist Church clinic last Friday about 15 minutes before it closed. Mr. Kay suggested hindsight may encourage Public Health to examine the location, and move the immunization clinic somewhere with more parking or find a site people can get to without a car if they choose.

But Public Health spokesperson Tara Hall said no review of the location has taken place, and the clinic will not move from that site

“Dundas Baptist Church is one of four permanent locations,” Ms. Hall said.

The site met the required criteria for H1N1 clinics, including providing enough space and being available to the city for the required four to six weeks.

As long as Hamilton still has vaccine available, the Governor’s Road location is scheduled to be used until just before Christmas. It wasn’t known earlier this week when the clinic will open to the general public.

Ms. Hall said the public health department hopes having more clinics open this week, and insisting only the most at-risk residents get the vaccine for now, pressure on the Dundas location will ease and there will be fewer traffic and pedestrian safety problems.

Hamilton Police put an on-duty officer at the site immediately, expecting it to be an issue when it opened last Monday at 1 p. m. But when police discovered how busy it was and the officer was unavailable to respond to calls, a paid-duty or overtime officer was assigned to the site.

But police and public health commended each other on their individual efforts to keep the location as safe as possible, and manage the large numbers of people.

Inspector Buck said clinic staff did a really good job managing the people who showed up, and Ms. Hall said police did a great job managing traffic and providing safe pedestrian crossing across Governor’s Road.