A look at the COVID-19 testing centre at the KPU Langley campus

The public health initiative has been a joint effort between KPU and Fraser Health

Covid Testing Site at KPU’s Langley Campus. (Kyler Emerson)

In an effort to join the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Kwantlen Polytechnic University has dedicated space for a testing centre at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Langley campus.

The facility is a partnership between Fraser Health and the Langley Division of Family Practice, and is one of 11 centres throughout the region. It first opened in September and operates seven days a week, from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, providing about 325 tests daily. It runs on a six-lane drive-through model, and while walk-in appointments are permitted, people are encouraged to book an appointment online.Testing capacity has doubled in Langley since it opened.

What sparked the idea was the amount of parking space currently left vacant on campus. In an email exchange with The Runner, Marlyn Graziano, VP External Affairs at KPU, said that as the university shifted to mostly remote learning in March, and the majority of employees started working from home, the campus started to seem quite empty.

“So our campuses have remained very quiet,” said Graziano.

Graziano said that KPU President Dr. Alan Davis wanted KPU to consider possibilities for university property to be utilized for the public good. Fraser Health approached KPU with the idea to operate a COVID-19 testing facility in the KPU Langley campus parking lot.

“We felt this was a significant benefit to our community during the pandemic,” she said. “The COVID testing centre now located at KPU Langley was a chance to do just that.”

As a polytechnic university that includes a faculty of health, Graziano said it was also important for KPU to demonstrate their commitment to public health and the safety measures the province is taking to address the crisis.

“This location is centrally located in the Langley community, is easily accessible, and is large enough to meet the current testing needs while also having the ability to expand as needed,” Fraser Health said in an email to The Runner.

Fraser Health is seeing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in the region. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control reported 717 new cases on Nov. 17, for a regional total of about 6,600 active cases.

Since expanding COVID-19 testing in the summer, the health authority has gone from an average of 600 to 700 tests per day to approximately 3,000 tests per day across the region. Fraser Health said they appreciate KPU’s partnership and will continue to offer these services for as long as they are needed.

Graziano said that in the early days of the clinic’s opening, there were some issues with traffic management, but it was quickly dealt with by site operators. They also adjusted the signage to ensure that people could find the testing centre, and worked with Fraser Health to continually refine and improve way-finding.

Fraser Health said COVID-19 testing is crucial, so anyone experiencing symptoms can receive a test if needed. They’re monitoring daily volumes at each testing centre to ensure they can continue to meet the community’s demands and open new centres in the region if necessary.

“From the outset we have said that our priority is the safety and wellness of our students and employees.  We also remain committed to supporting our communities, and in the middle of a global pandemic, we believed it was appropriate to play our part in helping support the health of Langley residents,” said Graziano. “They are, after all, our neighbours.”