Highline Mushrooms First Organization to utilize Agrifood Worker COVID-19 Assessment Centre “It’s about offering our people the testing they need.”

June 09, 2020

Highline Mushrooms, located in Leamington, Ontario is the first grower in the region to utilize the Agrifood Worker Assessment Centre. The Nature Fresh Farm Recreation Centre (Formerly Sherk Centre) started operations at 9am today with several buses of Agrifood workers coming to get COVID-19 testing and assessment by Essex county medical professionals.


“We join Dr.Moncur as well as Mayor Macdonald and our elected officials in being concerned about the rate COVID-19 is spreading through our communities. As an industry leads and one the of the largest private employers in the county, we feel it is important to show our associates and our community residents that we take this threat seriously. We absolutely prioritize our associate’s health and well-being as well as our community responsibility over every other priority we have. We urged all our associates to get tested and expect over 200 tests to get completed today.” - Aaron Hamer, President and CEO, Highline Mushrooms


Putting people first, Highline Mushrooms sent over 100 workers on a voluntary basis to get tested and assessed on Tuesday morning. Highline Mushrooms hopes to have other growers in the region to utilize this resource for the community.


“This initiative is creating equitable access to testing to workers in the Agrifood sector who may have barriers to being tested in our other Assessment Centre, which may not be easy to access for those without transportation or who are working during the day.”- Dr. Ross Moncur, Interim CEO and Chief of Staff for Erie Shores HealthCare.


Medical teams would like more growers in the region to access the structure put in place for the community and our workers to get the care they need.


The Assessment Centre is a regional collaboration between Erie Shores HealthCare, Essex Windsor EMS, the Municipality of Leamington, Windsor Regional Hospital, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Windsor Essex Community Health Centre, Home and Community Care ESC/Ontario Health West Region, Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Windsor Essex County Health Unit.


The gymnasium has been converted into a swabbing and testing clinic to offer assessment, testing and care for the approximate 8000 Agrifood workers in the area.
ESHC is aware there are questions from growers and greenhouse in the region about the process:


How does it happen?
The gymnasium has been converted into a swabbing and testing clinic to offer assessment, testing and care for the approximate 8000 Agrifood Workers in the area. Workers are registered, swabbed and information is given about the Agrifood Worker Health Aid Card.The clinic opens 9am and runs until 4pm.


What are the logistics?
  • Farms within Essex County work with Erie Shores HealthCare to be pre-assigned a time to arrive at the complex by buses.
  • They arrive with their workers at the Southwest corner entrance of the Complex gymnasium
  • Enter to the right and are registered at one of the 5 tables along the South wall
  • Once completed registration, they will continue to one of the 10 swabbing tables on the East and North walls
  • Before they leave, they check in at the Northwest table to ensure they have their Migrant worker cards with them. If not they will gather the information needed.
  • If at any time there is a worker that appears to need additional care, there will be an assessment table set up along the West wall.
  • Exit the Northwest doors (out by the flag poles) and proceed back to their farms.
Why use a bus to transport? Is that safe?
Safety during this process is paramount. In keeping with Public Health’s guidance on public transportation, several safety mechanisms have been put in place, including:
  • All riders will wear masks
  • Every other seat is left empty
  • Hand sanitizer is used when getting on and off the bus
  • Masks and shields are worn by the drivers
  • Buses are sanitized after every route
  • How long will workers be away for testing?
  • The test takes 10 to 20 minutes from start to finish
What happens if a worker tests positive?
The Windsor-Essex Health Unit will follow up with all individuals who have tested positive.


Where will workers who test positive be isolated?
Strategies have been developed and continue to evolve based on outcomes of testing to provide isolation accommodations in both traditional and non-traditional settings.


Why do we have a central Assessment Centre instead of onsite visits?
Due to number of farms and greenhouses in the regional, the infrastructure is not in place to support on-site testing at each location. This collaborative does not have the resources to travel to that number of sites. In addition, the time required to set up and take down between farms and greenhouses in time sensitive and not feasible for timely access.


Do workers need to be isolated after they are tested?
No. Asymptomatic workers who are voluntarily tested do not need to isolate while waiting for results.


How do I book in a time for our employees?
Please call ESHC Human Resources at 519.326.2373 ext. 4123
ESHC wants to remind the community that this is an extension of our assessment centre at ESHC this enables us to bridge the gap and provide equitable access to our communities.