Health and public security workers on over-drive to help Aylmer through health crisis
The Centre Integré de la santé et des services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO) hosted a series of press conferences over the weekend to update the population on the spread of Coronavirus locally.
On the afternoon of March 15, CISSSO’s Dr Christelle Kom Mogto said that no cases of COVID-19 have yet been diagnosed in the Outaouais.
She added that among 252 cases in Canada, 35 were in Quebec – 14 more than on the previous day. She explained that, since opening a new COVID-19 testing clinic at its facility on boulevard Saint-Raymond in Hull on March 14, CISSSO has been administering tests on a daily basis.
She noted that they’ve received results of around 15 of them per day “which are all negative so far”.
She added that CISSSO has notified those who tested negative and recommended them to remain in self-isolation and to follow recommended hygienic measures for 14 days from the end of a trip abroad or when they believed to have made contact with the virus.
Kom Mogto explained that tests are administered by the Quebec Public Health Laboratory and that results come back within 24- to 48-hours. She added that CISSSO calls patients directly after obtaining their results. In the case of someone testing positive, they will be called instantly because an immediate research of contacts will be initiated to hopefully prevent further transmission of the virus. “We will track these people, put them in isolation, surveil their symptoms and test if they develop symptoms,” she said.
Noting that no cases have been reported yet in the region, Kom Mogto said that it’s important for the population not to rest easy on preventive measures, but rather, that it’s time to intensify measures.
“We heard the Prime Minister and the National Public Health Director, Dr Horatio Arruda on this subject,” she said. “All gatherings of 250 people are banned … it’s going to be very important to respect this,” she added.
She emphasized the importance of protecting the elderly – being the most vulnerable population – noting that visits to hospitals, long-term care facilities (CHSLD) and retirement homes are no allowed and for people aged 70 and older who live at home to stay put as much as possible. “Avoid, if you have symptoms, visiting those people,” she said. “You can communicate with them by phone if you want news. If you’re symptomatic, avoid visiting them. It’s very important.”
President and Director General Josée Filion provided an update on the new clinic, noting that activities have been going well so far. She said that the purpose of the clinic was to reduce pressure in CISSSO’s emergency rooms and that, despite an initial capacity of 16 tests daily, medical officials have administrated as many as 40 at the new clinic, with another 56 planned for the entire day.
At the pre-evaluation clinic, 12 patients presented themselves for appointments and nine of them will be tested, Filion said.
She reminded the population that anyone feeling COVID-19 symptoms is urged to call 1-877-644-4545, the Quebec Government Services designated phone line for Coronavirus-related questions. Filion said that on March 14 alone, the phone line received 202 calls from the Outaouais with 156 of them concerning COVID-19. “We are aware that there is an enormous volume of calls presently planned,” she said. “But the entirety of the province is mobilizing to stabilize the situation.”
She also echoed Kom Mogto’s sentiments regarding the importance of avoiding non-essential visits to the elderly, noting that they won’t be allowed, except under specific criteria, and for those who do, to ensure use of the best hygienic practices.
“All visits to hospitals and care shelters are strictly not allowed, with the exception of those with humanitarian reasons – for example, at births, the presence of a guide is accepted, visits from loved ones to people in intensive care, whether or not they are in end-of-life stages, and visits to hospitalized young children in pediatric centres,” she said. “I am really calling on the responsibility of everyone to avoid the propagation to our clientele,” she added.
For people with elderly loved ones in hospitals or CHSLD’s, Filion said that CISSSO personnel would contact families directly to give them updates on their loved one’s situation.
“We are working on enhancing our teams on the field to be able to provide all of our service care,” she said. “It’s important that the service care offered is of quality and security. So, we’re putting everything in place to be able to enhance our teams.”
However, she invited people to staying in contact with elderly loved ones, noting that seniors are often lonely and that their needs should be taken care of as well. “We must not forget that,” she said. “They are also vulnerable people who are often alone. So, I am really calling on solidarity in a situation like this.”
Those interested in getting tested at the new clinic must set up an appointment via the Coronavirus phone line – 1-877-644-4545 – and anyone feeling symptoms is advised to call immediately and not go to a CISSSO hospital or to a CHSLD.
Pointing to Premier Francois Legault’s declaration of a provincial sanitary state of emergency, she said that the pandemic is putting great pressure on the health industry. Thus, it is everyone’s respective responsibility to do everything they can to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading and to minimize hospitalization.
“Each of us must behave prudently and make reasonable choices,” she said. “Our emergency departments must be reserved for people who require immediate care. In summary, what I’m saying is be responsible in the choice of your activities.” She concluded by stating that she’s calling on the population’s comprehension of the situation that is constantly evolving, to cooperate to stop propagation and that she’s counting on CISSSO’s employees to keep the population in good hands.
“The point that I’m making right now is that ambulatory activities may evolve,” she said.
According to a press release issued on the same date, CISSSO plans on reviewing and adjusting its activities in order to provide quality essential health and care services during the constantly evolving pandemic.
City implements preventative measures
During a joint press conference presented by Ville de Gatineau, CISSSO and the Societé de Transport de l’Outaouais (STO) concerning measures to minimize risks linked with COVID-19, on March 13, Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said that all of the following public activities will be postponed until further notice:
Events and gathering of 250 or more people, public consultations, aquatic activities, theatrical spectacles, activities run by the city, its municipal partners and schools, as well as registrations for the Culture et loisir program.
The following locations will be closed until further notice: the Paul-Pelletier Aquatic Centres, arenas, libraries, community centres and entertainment spaces.
The following locations and activities will remain open until further notice:
Municipal council meeting on March 17, the non-urgent call centre (311), service centres, La Maison du citoyen, ecocentres, municipal court and residual matter collection facilities.
“The city’s actions aim to slow down and limit propagation of the virus, to assure the delivery of essential municipal services and support public health authorities,” Pedneaud-Jobin said. “We’re asking each of you to exemplify civility and to follow the instructions; your collaboration is indispensable.”
To maintain a safe and sanitary work environment, city employees have been advised to work from home if possible. If an employee or a loved one received a diagnosis of COVID-19, they need to self-isolate for 14 days. All employees who returned from a trip, from March 12 onward, must do the same.
To keep the population up to date on the pandemic, the city will regularly post updates on Gatineau.ca/covid19.
Public transportation adjusts to COVID-19
STO President Myriam Nadeau said on March 13 that a crisis unit had been formed at the STO that is monitoring the situation while following the Quebec government’s instructions.
She reminded the population that public transit users must conduct themselves according to hygienic practices recommended by Quebec Public Health and that STO will try to maintain its level of service as much as possible.
As a preventive measure, STO has changed its bus-cleaning frequency from weekly to daily.