|Northern British Columbians had a chance to once again ask |
questions of Northern Health officials on Thursday evening
The latest in Virtual Health Care Town Halls took place on Thursday evening, with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice and Cariboo MLA Coralee Oakes hosting the one hour review of some of the progress that has been made towards the COVID response by Northern Health.
Northern Health Authority CEO Cathy Ulrich and Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Raina Fumerton were along for the night, the medical officials providing some answers on a number questions.
Among the themes explored on the evening was a look at the BC Restart program and whether it was wise to move forward with a reboot for the province's economy and activities.
Dr. Fumerton noted that that while the disease is still part of our day to day experience, that British Columbians have worked hard to flatten the curve, noting that it's not a disease where we can focus on elimination she observed how we can't stay in a position where the economy remains closed down and how in her opinion it is the right time to restart and reopen.
She did note that Northern Health will be watching for any cases that are reported over the next few weeks to adjust their care program accordingly.
Another question explored the prospect for when social gathering measures may be relaxed.
Towards that the current measures on gatherings of up to fifty people were outlined, with a focus put on the need for continued attention towards physical distancing, good hand hygiene and to stay home if you are sick.
As to a best guess as to when some of the restrictions may be lifted, Ms. Ulrich observed that at this point they don't really have any date in mind, noting that officials will be watching over the next few weeks what impact the more relaxed measures bring.
Ms. Rice made note of the patience that British Columbians have had when it comes to some of the services such as haircuts and other personal service appointments that they once enjoyed, relaying a question as to the special requirements that will be required for those services in the future.
Ms. Ulrich noted of the range of guidelines that the WorkSafeBC website hosts that outline the safety plan that barbers shops, beauty salons and such will have to follow to ensure that both staff and customers are safe.
MLA Oakes delivered a viewer question on Dental Clinics, asking on themes of proper disinfection of materials at clinics.
The Northern Health CEO noted of the guidance that the provinces dentists have received as they prepare to resume their duties, with a range of measures in place to ensure a safe environment for patients and staff.
How Northern Health plans to expand on an elective surgery restart was explored, with Ms. Ulrich noting that the surgical capacity is now at around 70 percent since they returned to the operating rooms, with 26 percent of those patients who had their surgery plans put on hiatus having now been contacted to learn of their desires to move forward.
Non essential travel made for a question with the Northern Health officials reinforcing the themes introduced by the Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to ensure that if you do travel to other areas that you hold to the public health measures in place.
Dr. Fumerton observed that as the province moves forward into phase Two, that health officials will be reviewing data regularly to determine any further actions towards the non essential travel themes, with mid June the first benchmark towards that review.
When Seniors may begin to resume some of their out of home activities made for a question, with Dr. Fumerton noting that generally speaking the best way for Senior's to protect themselves is to use the same measures they would in flu season, including taking a pass on large gathering events and limiting some of their activities. Though she observed that it's not practical that Seniors would remain in a lockdown situation for months at a time.
The Back to School plans ahead provided for some discussion, with a few questions on how to best manage sending children back to class.
Dr. Fumerton highlighted that the recommendation is that if students have any symptoms of any illness all they should remain at home, expanding on the process that is in place for those that have been in close contact with confirmed cases, with the Dr. noting that those students would not be returning to school.
As for any increase in cases that could come from a reopening, Dr. Fumerton outlined how the Health Authority would be watching the return carefully, she did acknowledge that there could be some community spread but again reinforced the need for proper awareness by families.
The prospect of antibody testing and whether it will be introduced in the Northern Health region made for a question, with Dr. Fumerton outlining how it may be helpful towards research on the virus though as it's presently just in a pilot project process, she was unsure as to when Northern Health may be included in the timeline of research.
Some of the other themes explored included how parents should approach the reopening of sports and recreation facilities in the future and what protocols will be in place.
How the pandemic has effected the lives of children, the differences in face coverings and when Doctor's Clinics may return to more normal operations as they did prior to the arrival of COVID.
An often asked question as to why Northern Health does not release the locations of COVID cases was relayed once again, with the Health officials reviewing how the decision to release information was made owing to the desire for patient privacy and to reduce the potential for undue panic in smaller communities.
You can review the full hour of information and commentary from the BC Government's Facebook page archive.
For more notes on items of interest from Northern Health see our archive page.