All Canadians need to practice physical distancing reinforce Island doctors


MINDEMOYA – With the first two confirmed COVID-19 cases of residents in the Manitoulin District being reported on Sunday of this  week, it is even more important that people stay at home, self-isolate and continue physical distancing as keys to keep this disease from spreading further. 

“It is key that self-isolation and physically self-distancing from others be followed,” said Dr. Maurianne Reade this past Saturday. “Dr. (Stephen) Cooper, in an interview on a local radio station on Friday mentioned that for those people who have travelled and are in self-isolation it may seem like 14 days is a long wait, but it is imperative and important to keep in mind that others benefit by following the self-isolation procedures. It is so important for people to stay at home if they can and self-isolate. Every day that we work toward flattening the curve of this virus, the better it is for everyone and saves the lives of local residents and health care workers.” 

“We know that the vast majority of people who have returned from travelling in different countries are self-isolating and we are thankful for that. However, in the community a few people have been identified as not taking this whole thing seriously enough. They need to get on board and self-isolate. That’s part of the District of Manitoulin community COVID leadership message that we want to create. People need to stay at home.”

“And everyone needs to know there are supports available out there for people, for instance if they need groceries they can have them delivered to their home,” said Dr. Reade. “There are phone numbers that they can call, for instance in Central Manitoulin there is a group of volunteers and numbers that people can call to get help and support.”  

Dr. Reade called a meeting of municipal and First Nation leaders from across Manitoulin last week. “My role in calling the meeting was as the physician representative for the Emergency Management Manitoulin Community Response/Emergency Preparedness and Paramedicine Committee at the Manitoulin Health Centre.” 

She said those at the meeting included Julia Fedec (in clinical nursing at the MHC) as well as Tim Vine, CFO of MHC. The MHC COVID Response Leadership Team has been meeting daily for some time now, she pointed out.

Dr. Reade said, “my motivation for calling the meeting last week was to initiate broad discussion with municipal and First Nation leaders because we all benefit being in the same venue to share questions, information and resources.”

She pointed out, for example, since the COVID leadership meeting last Wednesday, MHC has formally announced its personal protective equipment campaign and that they have medical students contacting and working with the Ontario Medical Association and Ontario Medical Students Association to help support donations of PPE. 

At the meeting, other things that came up for discussion were looking at possible best- and worst-case scenarios for the impact of COVID-19 on Manitoulin Island and looking at developing plans for field hospitals if they are needed. “We also provided information on the assessment centres that have been set up (in Little Current and Mindemoya) and testing of people for the virus,” said Dr. Reade.

Dr. Reade said the ventilator campaign is going very well and, “they are on order—although it may be weeks before they arrive.”

“Debbie Graham is co-ordinating the sub-group of leaders for the field hospitals,” said Dr. Reade. “We know field hospital planning has been carried out in M’Chigeeng and Assiginack and Derek Debassige and Debbie (Graham) on behalf of MHC will be working with the sub-group to create a simple model to enact if these (field hospitals) are needed (around the Island). Assiginack and M’Chigeeng have plans in place and leadership will look at how to learn from them, adopt and use this information where it is needed, if this is the case.”

“There was also discussion at the meeting to look at how we can limit the number of visitors to the Island, to alleviate the pressures on our health care system during all of this,” said Dr. Reade. 

She said the Owen Sound Transportation Company having indefinitely cancelled the opening of the M.S. Chi-Cheemaun ferry season between Tobermory and South Baymouth was a good move. 

“It is important to remember our health services and resources are very small compared to most areas and to have people coming to the Island to their camps during this (pandemic) will overload us more than it would in the areas all these visitors have at their full-time residence locations. People from other areas need to stay in their cities and homes, and not visit and end up getting sick here. If their home is in southern Ontario, for example, they need to stay there, where their health care facilities are closest.”