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Re By Acting Early On Seniors’ Homes, Kingston Avoids Brunt Of Crisis (April 28): Bravo to Kieran Moore, Kingston’s Medical Officer of Health, for taking swift and creative measures to avoid the catastrophe in nursing homes elsewhere in the country.
It is indeed sad that these actions, simple acts such as redeploying restaurant inspectors to monitor care homes, were not shared with the rest of the public health community. So many lives could have been saved. As someone who has worked with public health and studied its history, I know that many major improvements in the well-being of populations have resulted from public health measures, not acute care medicine.
Kingston’s experience should be a vital lesson for all parts of the health system, including governments. Perhaps in studying the pandemic’s aftermath, the city’s actions can be highlighted. And Dr. Moore given a medal!
Patty Deline Ottawa
Re Long-term Care Home Staff, Residents Struggling With Restrictive COVID-19 Policies (April 29): So much has been written about the vulnerability of long-term care homes. Almost all of it might be missing the heart of the problem: capitalism.
We live in a seniors residence with a full range of medical care. It is run by a non-profit organization and it is a well-managed building with only four positive tests for COVID-19. We are fortunate to be able to afford the monthly fees which most seniors cannot.
While many for-profit residences are well run, we suspect quite a few cut corners to make money. And we know about the chronic underfunding of government-supported facilities. Our hypothesis is that pretty well all outbreaks in long-term care have been in these environments. Will Ontario be gutsy enough to release more data to test our hypothesis?
Peter and Sue Russell Toronto
Re Long-term Care Homes Connected To 79% Of All Virus Deaths (April 29): As a physician working in long-term care for more than 30 years in both private and public homes, I am thrilled to say that with personal protective equipment, planning and a little bit of luck, my two facilities have been spared from COVID-19 so far. I would like to clarify something about long-term care and nursing homes. They are just that: homes.
Loved ones are residents, not patients. We have always encouraged socialization in our facilities, with music, activities and even hugs. Staff become family to our residents, as many actual families visit less frequently over time. It is no surprise to me that frail seniors in long-term care are at the centre of the outbreak – we are not a hospital. We do not have countless staff and large rooms where residents can be isolated. We are home.
Governments should make promised changes to long-term care, but they should not act like what has happened was not predictable from the start.
Ruth Goldman MD, Toronto
Where do we go from here?
Re As Lockdowns Lift, Will This Be The Summer Of Our Discontent? (April 29): Columnist Gary Mason is quite right to warn us that warm weather will have Canadians longing to get outside and head to the beach or park.
For our neighbour to the south, where virus-related deaths continue to swell, this already seems to be a real problem. But as I look out my window at the snowy blanket that covers the ground in Halifax, I can only dream of an afternoon at Clam Harbour Beach or a family get-together in Point Pleasant Park. Still, I remind myself, that blanket of snow might be keeping us safe.
Mark DeWolf Halifax
Re We’re Nowhere Near Herd Immunity. Why Would We Trust Governments To Get Us There? (April 29): I shiver when reading the phrase “herd immunity.” Can’t we lose it, please?
How can we engineer a "controlled ascent” without acknowledging that there’s another force at work? One with its own method of achieving so-called herd immunity. It is called culling, and the force is nature.
As a member of the “herd,” I object to any government-engineered immunity strategy. But nature may have other plans.
Marianne Orr Brampton, Ont.
Re Quebec’s Economic Relaunch Unpredictable: Top Health Official (April 29): The Ontario-Quebec border should be closed on May 4. The consequences of Quebec’s decision to relax pandemic restrictions will likely be borne by residents of border communities. Tens of thousands of federal public servants share workspaces in Ottawa and Gatineau, for example, and we return home to our families each day.
I believe the residents of border communities have a collective responsibility to protect one another. They should adopt whichever provincial regulations are more stringent. If that can’t be done, then the border should close.
Rob Shotton Ottawa
As a former high-school teacher who thankfully remains in good health, let me offer a clue as to the degree and facility of possible COVID-19 transmission in schools.
Each fall, when the more common coronavirus sniffles invariably began in classrooms, we teachers could almost guarantee the majority of us would succumb in due course; the same was true every spring. It amounted to some 60 bouts of the common cold during my career. However, now retired for over 15 years and still very active, I can count on one hand the number of such afflictions I’ve suffered.
My conclusion: Schools are veritable petri dishes. Given that the overall goal for COVID-19 has been one of containment, it seems Ontario’s decision to keep schools closed is wise and Quebec’s to gradually open them foolhardy.
Alan Scrivener Cornwall, Ont.
Re Incomplete Grade (Letters, April 29): A letter-writer should understand that some parents still work at essential businesses. After working all day, they still have to come home, prepare dinner, clean up, spend time with their children, then finally help with homework – all before dropping into bed and doing it again tomorrow. For single parents it can be doubly hard.
Not everyone is in the same boat – some are on sinking ships and looking for a life preserver!
Kathy Masson Mississauga
Many years ago, a wise teacher said to me: “Don’t let your child’s schooling interfere with their education."
Gail Storey Vancouver
Re When The Sports World Goes Dark, I Turn To Alison Roman (April 27): One knows just how untethered we’ve become from the world of sports when one’s favourite alpha sportswriter starts writing about his discovery of frizzled chickpeas, toasted fennel and caramelized shallot pasta.
If physical distancing goes on much longer, Cathal Kelly could turn to writing about backyard croquet or online crochet. Yes, for those of us fortunate enough to be healthy, one of the essential questions has become: Do I bother getting dressed or do I negotiate another pyjama day?
Elana Wolff Thornhill, Ont.
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