Plea from an ER doctor: Give our stretched health-care resources a fighting chance


This column is an opinion by Dr. Taylor Lougheed, an Ontario doctor practising in household, emergency, sport, and cannabinoid medication. For extra details about CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

I’m an emergency room doctor. Each time I’m going in to work a shift, I characterize one small piece of the entrance line of our health-care system that works to maintain Canadians wholesome.

I work in a division that always has a full ready room, and a wait time of a number of hours to be seen by a physician. I work alongside an skilled and compassionate group that always finds itself short-staffed and coping with excessive volumes of circumstances. When sufferers are admitted they typically have nowhere to go, as the remainder of the hospital is full.

Every year throughout flu season we’re stretched even additional, typically past secure capability. Colleagues are burning out with “ethical harm,” annoyed by an incapacity to supply the kind of care they’re skilled, and need, to supply. Sufferers rightly categorical frustration at lengthy waits, and hallway medication has change into an uncomfortable new norm.

For years now, the route our health-care system has been heading in has had me apprehensive.

After which COVID-19 arrived.

The federal authorities is urging Canadians to abide by guidelines for social distancing and self isolation or they are going to enact measures to implement them, together with prison penalties. 1:59

Because it ramped up and began its march the world over, we have now seen unprecedented reactions: sports activities leagues shut down, award reveals and conferences cancelled, the WHO declaring a pandemic, and governments asserting states of emergencies.

And but … regardless of these alarming bulletins, the message has by some means been misplaced on some individuals who proceed to function underneath the misguided assumption that their lives ought to go on as common. That gatherings and events ought to nonetheless be held. That this outbreak is not severe.

Though it is true that older sufferers and people with diseases are the almost certainly to get sick with COVID-19, it isn’t simply our aged inhabitants who’re being hospitalized. And all the opposite well being issues that afflict individuals each day and for which care is important have not by some means ceased with the unfold of COVID-19.

At my hospital the intensive care unit (ICU) beds are already full, and we do not actually have a constructive COVID-19 case but. Smaller hospitals haven’t any ICU beds — if they’ve a cluster of sick COVID-19 sufferers, what do they do? The place do these individuals go?

Medical doctors reply your questions in regards to the coronavirus in Canada, together with when to go to the hospital and the way well being care staff can defend their households. 5:14

Canada has about 10 to 12 ICU beds per 100,000 people, relying on the area. Compared, Italy has about 12 and its health-care system was rapidly overwhelmed by COVID-19 circumstances. It is argued that Italy has been hit arduous by COVID-19 due to the next median age of 45.5, however Canada is not far off that with a median age of 42.2.

If we do not flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections in Canada, we’ll far exceed the capability of our already overburdened health-care system.

And if hospitals are overrun, everybody requiring medical care will likely be affected. Sprain your ankle? Break a bone? Undergo a coronary heart assault? Even widespread emergency visits, elective surgical procedures or specialist consults will change into anxious or almost inconceivable. There will likely be an impression on everybody.

So what are you able to do?

Keep residence. Cancel plans. Solely go locations if completely vital. Textual content, name, and video-chat with family members. Test in on one another. Shield these most susceptible round you by serving to to forestall the unfold of COVID-19.

Social distancing will likely be arduous, however the various is devastating. Please give our already stretched health-care assets a combating likelihood.




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