To read Tom's second blog post, click here.
It seems highly likely that over the course of the next 12 months, many Islanders will be tested for C-19. I wanted to let you know what the experience was like for me.
After a couple of calls with members of the Public Health team, arrangements were made and my appointment was booked in. The instruction was to arrive at North Beach and drive all the way to the end of the pier (parking on the arm at the end next to the toilets). It was made very clear to me that at no point during the process was I to leave my car. Having arrived at my designated spot, I had to call a mobile number and let them know I was ready. They were running a little behind so I waited in my car and read a book for a while before getting the call back.
As per the instructions, I drove into the customs shed (which clearly isn’t getting much use from passenger ferries at the moment) at the end of the pier and pulled up next to the medical station set up in there.
I have driven through that shed many times and it’s always been manned by people in uniform but there was something surreal about the scene this time. Replacing the customs officials wearing dark uniforms and serious faces were two friendly medical staff dressed from head to toe in bright protective clothing.
Through the open car window I was asked a series of questions about my symptoms and timings. My blood pressure and temperature was taken before they finally moved onto the swabs. Two swabs were taken from my throat - not particularly pleasant but they were carried out quickly and efficiently. The other two samples needed were nasal. The swab was inserted up my nostril and I was asked to tilt my head back so that they could reach a bit further in - I didn’t realise a swab could reach that far inside a human head! After a few twists (which felt like my brain was being polished) it was removed, sealed in a container and bagged.
With swabs completed and some final details checked I was free to leave and - once my eyes had stopped watering - I drove home.
Whilst this experience was clearly unusual what struck me was how quickly our Public Health team had created a safe and secure process for undertaking the testing here in Guernsey. When you think about the logistics it really is impressive that we moved so rapidly to create a testing facility.
And it doesn’t stop at the testing facility. From what I understand the hospital has undergone extensive restructuring in a very short space of time in order to cope with virus patients. It took hardly any time before Government were holding regular live-streamed media briefings. And it appears that Guernsey have moved quicker than other jurisdictions in securing the ability to generate our test results locally.
I know from speaking to our clients (before I fell ill) that lots of businesses have moved quickly to make fundamental changes to their operations. Some of those changes have been somewhat forced upon them - like the need to work from home - while others have been implemented voluntarily in an effort to improve the business.
I think it’s pretty amazing what can be achieved when people rally together, bound by a common cause, inspired by a shared goal. In this crazy time people are doing more for each other than ever before. Red tape is being cut. Bureaucracy is being ignored. People are uniting. Things are getting done.
I can say with conviction that I wish this pandemic had never happened. But I also think it will be amazing to see the positive outcomes that are generated by this situation. Maybe we will see huge operation improvements in many businesses who were forced to adapt quickly to the changes. Perhaps we will find that companies with a strong culture really excelled in the challenging times.
Or maybe we will have drive-through medical centres.
My heart goes out to anyone suffering from C-19 and their families. And my admiration goes out to those who have taken a terrible situation and made a positive impact.
To read Tom's fourth post, click here