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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Local municipal and healthcare leaders send united message to community

- Together we stay strong -

by Sylene Argent   Last Wednesday, around 35-days into the coronavirus pandemic, local healthcare and regional leaders participated in a teleconference event that was hosted live via the Windsor Regional Hospital Facebook page. The event allowed the local leaders and decision-makers a chance to update the community about the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to answering questions from local residents.    Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, Essex County Warden Gary McNamara, President and CEO for Erie Shores HealthCare, Janice Dawson, Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare President and CEO, Janice Kaffer, President and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital, David Musyj, and Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, participated in a virtual online townhall-style event.   The message the local healthcare leaders and decision-makers sent out to the community during the event aligned with the slogan the three regional hospitals have adopted during the course of the Coronavirus, which is “Together, we stay strong.” The slogan has been made into a logo, complete with a heart, and also incorporates the colours of the three local hospitals, Musyj explained. He noted the staff at the hospital are wearing the logo every day.   Dilkens said there is no doubt this has been a challenging time as everyone adjusts to the pandemic. He said he has seen the best in people. Windsor-Essex has stepped up to create needed PPE, participate in take-out Tuesdays, and agencies have helped those in need. He spoke of healthcare workers and essential workers, such as grocery store employees, who have also stepped up.   McNamara said the situation is abnormal, but he has seen tremendous work from many individuals, who keep everything going. People are taking the situation seriously. “But, if we are going to get through this, we need to stay strong, we need to stay united, and there is no doubt that Windsor-Essex will prevail again.”   This is a crucial time for public health, Dr. Ahmed said. Even at the beginning of the pandemic, where there was little information available, he said the local health unit wanted to put some measures in place to prevent the spread of the disease, which he said was critical.   He said, currently, everyone is in the middle of the pandemic. He noted it is not an individual who will make a difference, or a single agency, everyone has to do their part.   Hotel Dieu took some of Erie Shores HealthCare’s rehabilitation patients into their programs, so capacity could be created for future acute patients, Dawson pointed out. “You talk about partners and working together; 35-days ago, there were some partners in our region amongst three hospitals that came together very quickly and started working together very quickly to ensure we got what we needed to put in place to be prepared and start receiving patients showing symptoms of COVID-19. It’s been a bit of a journey, I can say, for the hospitals, certainly for our teams, as well as out frontline workers. But, early on, we showed the strength a community has amongst our healthcare partners,” Dawson said. She also called Musyj to ensure consistency was put in place between the local hospitals.   Erie Shores had one COVID-19 patient on the day of the event. Dawson hoped the numbers would continue as they are. She said an assessment centre would start at the Leamington Hospital, starting last Thursday.   Kaffer said there are three hospitals in the region and each has a unique role to play. She said Hotel Dieu has around 1200 employees, and the theme of standing strong has been demonstrated at her hospital.     The hospital staff has 22 employees that work for programs temporarily suspended, who are now working on a family resource team. With no ER, OR, or ICU, Hotel Dieu, she said, took on extra patients, such as those waiting for long-term care, to ensure the acute care system could work. Its admissions, she said, for the month of March to the time of the broadcast, was 285, over 45 percent higher than usual admissions.   Information is really powerful, Kaffer said. She encourages everyone to get their information from reputable sources. “We are your sources.”   Musyj thanked Windsor-Essex for the support. Their vigilance to being safe and social distancing is paying off, but it is too early to stop. Efforts have to double to ensure this war against COVID-19 is won, he noted.   During the portion of the event where questions were asked from community members, Musyj said, short of the GTA, Windsor Regional Hospital has the most patients on vents for positive COVID-19 patients, with 11 at the time of the broadcast. He added the hospital is working with long-term care facilities to help put together a plan for them to protect their residents who have COVID, the residents who do not, and staff members.      When it comes to the homeless population, Dr. Ahmed said the Health Unit is working with shelters, and housing individuals in need of isolation in hotels.


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