Karori Medical Centre during lockdown

WelCom August 2020 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…

WelCom August 2020

Fr Ron Bennett

Karori Medical Centre during lockdown Archdiocese of Wellington
Fr Ron Bennett with Covid-19 assessment team members, Staff Nurse Jacqui and
Dr Nick, at work in St Teresa’s Karori church foyer. Photo: Supplied

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 Covid-19 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 fit – 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’s two doorways, 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 Jeff mentioned 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. He said places like St Teresa’s were perfect for this. Dr Jeff said using St Teresa’s was a Godsend. Since tests began on 6 April, through to 22 May, over 630 people had been tested, with up to 30 and 40 people a day. Some people were coming from outside the area because of the convenience. 

The parishioners of St Teresa’s had a real feeling that their church was being used for a good purpose for the whole community. 

Fr Ron Bennett is parish priest for the Catholic Parish of Otari, which includes St Teresa’s Karori.