MANITOULIN – The Manitoulin District leaders committee has provided an expanded list of COVID-19 symptoms that members of the public can follow and use as a basis for whether they should get tested for the disease caused by the coronavirus. At a meeting last week, the committee also outlined the RiSe program, a resource to help combat loneliness during isolation being felt by rural individuals.
“The district leaders’ meeting (last) week involved much sharing of resources and education opportunities for communities and individuals,” said Dr. Maurianne Reade, late last week. “We talked about the updates on assessment centres and the long-term care testing that is taking place in all our LTC facilities on the Island. Testing was carried out at the Wikwemikong Nursing Home earlier this week, and at the Manitoulin Centennial Manor and (this) week at the Manitoulin Lodge Nursing Home in Gore Bay.”
“We also updated the leaders on the RiSe program,” said Dr. Reade. “The Rural and Isolated Support Endeavor (RiSe) is a student-run working group of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC) Student Committee. They will be making calls to people who live by themselves and do not fit into other vulnerable groups, from a mental health perspective. The nice thing about this program is that they are not there to provide counselling but just provide the person someone to talk to. One of the students was here in February and will be reaching out to grocery stores to display posters promoting the program.”
The RiSe website explains, “we are dedicated to improving mental health of individuals who live in rural communities across Canada experiencing isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our initiative mobilizes medical students to provide free regular check-ins via phone and social connection for just about anyone in rural areas, including those with mental health conditions, LGBTQ+ populations, seniors and more.
“You sign up by first telling your physician to refer to us, fill out the client intake form, call your student volunteer and talk. For those that don’t have a family physician they can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note: you must be 18 years of age or older to participate. And volunteers are not allowed to provide medical advice or arrange appointments.”
Dr. Reade also pointed out, “for our assessment centres (at the Manitoulin Health Centre in Little Current and Mindemoya), there is now an expanded list of symptoms, and people who have any of these systems we encourage getting tested.”
“The list of symptoms has been expanded to include people with pink eye,” said Dr. Reade.
Patients at the COVID-19 screening clinics need to be presenting at least one of the following systems: fever, new or worsening cough, difficulty breathing, exacerbation of chronic condition, acute functional decline, digestive symptoms (nausea, diarrhea, vomiting or pain), unexplained fatigue/malaise, chills, headache, sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, hoarse voice, delirium, loss of taste, smell or appetite, croup symptoms (pediatric) and pink eye/conjunctivitis.
“Work (construction) is continuing on establishing the field hospital (at the Little Current-Howland Recreation Centre),” continued Dr. Reade. “The expectation is that it will open once the hospitals reach capacity for patients. We are all hoping that with all the restrictions in place we will be able to handle any outbreaks, but I was reading information today that indicates the increase in the number of people who are at their cottages, in March, compared to last year, is double, which fits in with what we are seeing on the Island,” continued Dr. Reade, noting the more travel from one area to another in the province, the greater the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.