Andre Picard, Ontario, FLU discussed on The Big Story

The Big Story
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That there's all of these different outbreaks and illnesses popping up across the country. We we now have hundreds of facilities like hundreds of facilities with outbreaks and hundreds of deaths as a result and it's causing our overall mortality related to Cova in Canada to Terai so a lot of concerns there longer term issues. This is something that's been going on for a long time. Seniors in long term care facilities die every year from things like the flu and we kind of accept that as a given. You know that that they're going to die and flew seems particularly hard on seniors. And I don't think any of us have done a very good job or at least most of us haven't done a good job of asking why that is. Why is it that seniors in long term care facilities our meal multiple people in one room? You know why does the province continue to allow that? We know that. That's a huge risk for spreading infection and in fact. That's one of the reasons why hospitals have largely for both for the most part moved away from that. There's still some room sharing hospitals which is a problem as well but I was on the phone with someone the other day and night. Infection control expert. Who said the funny thing is that hospitals you would. You'd think that hospitals would be sort of a scary place to be right now during the midst of a pandemic but it's actually long term care. Facilities Hospitals know how to control the spread of infection but in long term care facilities. That's not happening much or very well. At this point for the most part and you know in some provinces they've taken over the staffing a long term care facilities and others like Ontario. They're still resisting doing widespread testing of residents and staff. And so it's it's a real mess over the place and it speaks to the need for institution wide change. Is it too late for us to do anything in the short term the could help right now? I mean you mentioned that. It's already in hundreds of homes across the country. You know you never WANNA say it's too late. I mean. Unfortunately there are homes that where there's like dozens of people have already died and there's more of that have been testing positive. A colleague of mine. Andre Picard wrote a column last week I think it was actually saying if you have a loved one in long term care. Get them out now if you can. And he faced a lot of blowback for that but it turns out as usual. Andre was right I mean I mean it's such an impossible situation for people to be in but that being said there is always hope for turning things around and you can look at some successful provinces and figure out what they've done and how they were able to manage that spread so province like they moved very quickly to take over the staffing these homes because they knew that the staff members weren't necessarily getting the training they needed the funding models weren't necessarily in place to to incentivize the homes to make sure things were being done properly making sure. Everyone had the gloves gowns and equipment that they needed so there is things that can and should be done and I do think that there's a way to turn this around. I think that one of the things that's emerged from health experts is that we need to start looking at places that don't yet have outbreaks with no positive cases and focus on those as potential hot spots anywhere could have could have a potential case. And let's do more testing. Let's test people without symptoms? Even something that's been floated you know get. Everyone tested all the time as testing becomes more available and these people are vulnerable. Why aren't we doing these things to protect them when you see a governments respond to these kind of questions do any of them give off a sense of taking a more long-term view on this Because like you said it's been a problem for ages or is it just now about putting out fires and we'll worry about the rest later. I get the sense overwhelmingly that it's about putting out the fires you know we're in crisis mode. Let's handle this crisis right now. And then we'll maybe deal with it later and I think the concern there is that you know if you only take the short term view. Perhaps none of these things will be changed. I mean these longstanding issues need to be addressed. Take something as simple as room sharing in a long term care home. You know these homes would need to be refitted redesigned. It's not an easy. Ask to just fix that overnight. But the province every province has the power to mandate those types of changes and it would take a lot of political courage and will to actually get that done. I think that the the benefit or the you know if there is one to the situation is that there are certainly it does appear to be more political will to do things now. I mean we've seen all kinds of things happen in such a fast time. Line that we have never seen before I mean for instance now in you know doctors are doing more telemedicine in Ontario. That's something that we've talked about for. You know years and years and all of a sudden it was done almost overnight with the snap of a finger and we're all seeing our doctors. Virtually you know we can do these things and they. They should be done. They need to be done. We need to protect those people that can protect themselves as a health reporter for more than a decade. Like you said. Does it frustrate you when you see These kind of things that we should be doing in clearly we can be doing only happening now when there are so many lives at stake. It astonishing you know and and it sort of speaks to this idea that everything that public health officials or government leaders thrown at you before really were just a lot of excuses. I mean certainly. There's things that are very complicated and would take a lot of time in legislation to change and you know doing things on the fly is not necessarily a great long term strategy to run a country but it does speak to this idea that we can be a lot bolder and make these changes happen things like you know making those long term care institutions safer places Prioritizing the health of seniors and making sure that people are going to be safe where they live we do have the ability to do it. And I think that there's going to be a number of changes that come out of this. I mean a lot of people will be permanently changed as a result of this and hopefully one of the changes that can come out of this is that we do place more of a priority on public health. We've chronically underfunded our public health offices. There's been a lot of high profile cuts to public health and in a crisis situation. Like this you start to see just how vital those connections are how well you fund. Public Health can really make a difference at a time like this. I mean places like South Korea have been able to flatten the curve and keep disease at bay for a number of reasons but one of them is that they have a lot of people available. Who are able to track down new cases. Make sure they're staying isolated. I mean you can't contain this disease. If you don't fund the people on the front line who are going to stop it you know isolate make sure people are staying home if they're sick and so we need to really do a lot more to fund the things up front to prevent these illnesses. I mean this is not a surprise. The reason why the movie contagion was so sort of precedent is not because You know the people that wrote it were sort of like fortune tellers. They just talked to some infection control experts in epidemiology. We knew this was going to happen. It was just a matter of when and we'd still didn't really prepare for it. Vat is an optimistic note to.

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