I CALLED the Thunder Bay District Health Unit to ask if anyone was available to speak to my community about COVID-19. I live in a co-operative community of 200 homes. It is my understanding that 60 per cent of the residents are over 60 and many are elderly and have health conditions. I wanted to arrange a town hall to inform people about COVID-19 and let them know what to do if they are ill, and to possibly set up a good-neighbour approach within our community to support vulnerable residents when/if COVID-19 arrives.
The health unit apparently is unable to do public sessions. I appreciate that there have been cuts, but the only resources available at the TBDHU is minimal information on their website.
I explained that the elderly may not access the Internet and that they need to prioritize the vulnerable and provide accessible information. I said that the province is telling people who are having symptoms to call ahead before going to the hospital emergency department. What is that number for people to call in Thunder Bay?
I was told that people should call their doctor. There are thousands of people in this city without a family doctor. Should they just show up at a walk-in clinic?
Other communities are planning. The Guelph Family Health Team is setting up a testing centre near their hospital — good thinking. What are we doing?
Start asking questions of your councillors and city services. Thunder Bay has a huge at-risk population. If there is plan, let us know. We need better communication and outreach. Don't assume everyone knows what to do because of the contradictory information on Facebook.
We have been told to prepare. Our city and TBDHU should be leading.