COVID-19 supportive care centre talks favour a centralized model


MANITOULIN – The COVID-19 isolation and community-run supportive care centres’ planning group on Manitoulin Island continues to explore the feasibility of having one centralized location rather than each community hosting their own, though all discussions remain preliminary at this point.

Central Manitoulin Mayor Richard Stephens told his council at a meeting last week that the Manitoulin COVID-19 Leadership Co-ordination Committee was set to discuss using the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre in Little Current as a possible isolation centre for health care workers.

This would enable the workers dealing directly with COVID-19 patients to have a place to stay away from others at home.

That discussion was not to designate the hotel as such a site but rather to assess whether or not the leadership group should form partnerships with that hotel or others on the Island so they could be rapidly mobilized if an urgent need arises.

Hotel executives said it was the first they had heard of the renewed discussion when contacted by The Expositor.

“Nothing has been shared at the board level of concrete plans. There could potentially be a role for us but as it stands now, it’s business as usual,” said Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre general manager Corey Stacinski, adding that he had previously offered the hotel as a place for essential workers to stay during the rise of the virus in Canada earlier this year.

Supportive care centre committee member Derek Debassige told The Expositor that supportive care centre meetings were shifting to a less-frequent schedule because much of the exploratory discussions have already taken place.

“Realistically, I think there’s a lot of facilities that could (support an isolation centre) whether they’re Island lodges or cottages that aren’t being utilized or are not too busy right now,” said Mr. Debassige. “There’s no real health support needed other than monitoring, getting food and having access to a phone … just a safe place to hide out for 14 days.”

Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre board chair Dean Roy reserved comment on the possibility of the hotel being used as potential supportive care centre, saying that those discussions have not yet begun initially.

The Township of Assiginack and M’Chigeeng First Nation have previously explored creating their own supportive care and isolation centres, which will run independently of Manitoulin Health Centre. The arena in Manitowaning is on standby for this purpose and discussions are continuing in M’Chigeeng.