The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Vaccination clinic brings local doc to tournament for the first time

August 13, 2021

Part of a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers, Dr. Cathy Zhang says the experience has been rewarding for her and colleagues.

A family physician, Zhang works out of a number of hospitals in the greater Toronto area mainly as a surgical assistant and has been a part of a number of vaccination clinics over the past few months. Ticket holders at this year’s tournament are being offered the opportunity to get the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines from the mobile vaccination clinic onsite hosted by Humber River Hospital, Trillium Health Partners and Toronto Public Health.

Zhang was on site for a day this week and was thrilled to work with other physicians, nursing staff, pharmacy and clerical support staff who were also excited to be involved, she says. As a team, they have been able to vaccinate patrons on site. Though the volume of people showing up at vaccination clinics has dropped significantly due to the high percentage of people who have already received doses, Zhang says clinics like this one and others that continue to operate are playing a very important role at this stage in the fight against COVID-19.

 “We’re all just very grateful to have taken part in this,” said Zhang. “Though the numbers are much lower these days in the vaccination centres, be it at the one at the National Bank Open or in our community mass vaccination centres, every one vaccine that we give is an extra plus for our community.

“Even though we don’t do that many in volume, the last 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the population are important vaccinations to be given out. If fans are happy to get it and find it very convenient, as some have mentioned, then we’re happy to be here.”

Zhang has worked at vaccination clinics at the Downsview site in Toronto, Mackenzie in York Region and other mobile clinics hosted by Humber River Hospital and Women’s College Hospital. Having the opportunity to interact with different people in various communities across the city, Zhang has seen first-hand the relief and hope the initiative has brought to the lives of many. 

“It’s been one of the most uplifting moments of the pandemic for a lot of us healthcare professionals,” said Zhang. “You meet so many members of the community who have been staying home for so long and have been doing their part and you see them finally coming out, especially back in March and April when we were vaccinating the older folks. It was so nice to see the happiness on the faces of everybody. It’s like a moment of hope that we’re nearing the end of the pandemic.”

Zhang is pictured between fellow vaccination team members, Sean Smith (left) and Daniel Lee (right), who she worked with at the tournament and at various other clinics. She says staff serving in both medical and clerical positions have played an essential role at clinics across the GTA. Those tasked with checking people in, ensuring they are properly registered, and receive their receipts, are there to ensure the overall process is as smooth and seamless as possible.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has been very generous in offering many health care professionals a chance to win free tickets to NHL games, soccer games, National Bank Open matches, Blue Jays games and other events.

Though she hasn’t won anything personally, she knows many colleagues who have and believes it is a great way the sporting community has shown appreciation for healthcare workers over the past year.

“We give to the community as healthcare professionals and it’s nice to see that the community appreciates us as well,” said Zhang. “It’s a nice two-way thing.”

A welcome change of pace for Zhang, the clinic at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers allowed her the opportunity to visit the tournament for the first time. Many of the other clinics have been at community churches, local arenas, schools, which Zhang says has given her and others a lot more insight into different communities across the region.

In some downtime at the tournament, Zhang was able to catch a bit of the tennis action. Though she’s very active and works out regularly, she admits she didn’t know much about the sport but thankfully had a colleague there to walk her through the ins and outs.

Photo : Peter Power/Tennis Canada

“It was nice to just be in that environment to take in the atmosphere and see how everyone is so focused during the match,” said Zhang. “Once the point is awarded there’s a sigh of relief and that’s when the emotions kind of come out. It was nice to take part in that and feel that in the stadium that you’re not able to feel when you’re watching virtually. It was a fantastic experience as a first-timer.”

The first 1000 fans to get vaccinated will receive a $50 Ultimate Dining Card from Recipe Unlimited Corporation. People who get the shot on site are also entered into a draw to win a grand prize. Zhang says being a part of a clinic site as unique as this one has been special.

“I work in a lot of different places and do a lot of different clinical activities as well so every day and every week is a good experience working with different people in a new setting,” said Zhang. “This tournament in particular has been a very enhanced and positive community-building experience.”