Dr. Charmaine Enns, the North Island medical health officer, pleaded for a sense of unity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo by Mike Chouinard

COVID-19 pandemic is no time for divisiveness, North Island medical health officer says

Defends Island Health’s handling of the crisis

The North Island’s medical health officer made an impassioned plea for unity of purpose in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Charmaine Enns said medical professionals don’t need to be distracted by divisive complaints about how health authorities are handling the situation. She made the comments in response to statements made by a Campbell River physician expressing frustration with the provincial Ministry of Health and Island Health.

The anonymous physician said in an article on bclocalnews.com that the amount of information the public is being given is not only seriously lacking, it’s also often inaccurate and is going to create serious problems. And it’s not just the public who isn’t getting the information they need, the doctor said, even those “on the forefront of knowledge, they’re not releasing information, and we’ve been instructed not to release information, even to each other.”

Dr. Enns said those and other comments in the article were “discouraging.”

“Very happy to call out the inappropriateness of what was printed by that anonymous physician which, to me, is so discouraging,” Enns said, “that one of my colleagues would think that they need to do something like that which was also so inaccurate and misinformed.”

The truth is, Dr. Enns said, “we are completely overwhelmed and inundated with information. There is no secret that we’re in a pandemic. It’s also been no secret within the health care system that this is going to impact our communities and our facilities.”

SEE: Campbell River doctor says health authority dropping the ball on COVID-19

The idea that Island Health would keep important information from the public is “just so false and such an egregious assertion” and undermines the “hard and diligent work that’s being done,” Dr. Enns said.

“It isn’t an ‘us and them (situation),’” Dr. Enns said. “It’s all of us. There is no ‘us and them.’”

There are many different roles to be filled when it comes to dealing with the response to the pandemic and one of those roles in the community is the healthcare provider role. And those in the healthcare provider role have “a very high standard of care that we need to provide,” Enns said, and confidentiality is one of those high standards of care. The healthcare providers in the community have a high level of expertise in managing confidentiality while still ensuring the public is aware of issues that may impact them.

“We will not ever compromise and should not – even though I know it has happened – patient confidentiality,” Enns said.

The strategy that has been in place for weeks, involves placing a person identified as having a positive result in isolation. Then all that person’s contacts are also put in quarantine and everyone in that group has daily follow-ups until they are declared recovered.

But you don’t not need to wait for a positive result to take action. We must assume COVID-19 is in the community and we should act like COVID-19 is in our community, Dr. Enns said.

“The responsibility lies on all of us as citizens and community members to appropriately participate in what needs to happen,” she said.

“So basically the population is two groups,” Dr. Enns said. “Those who have symptoms and those who don’t. Everybody should be at home, or as close to home as possible.”

We are at a place in the pandemic where we can’t be divisive, we must, all of us, do our fair share, Dr. Enns said.

There is a lot of “uninformed fear and stigma around COVID-19” in the community. There are people in isolation that are scared and alone while a whirwind of social media about the need to know circles around. When people think that someone has a diganosis, they get phone calls from people “accusing them, yelling at them tormenting them.” Then people start to connect dots in our smaller centers and our communities where everybody thinks they have a right to know something.

“Assume COVID is in your community,” Dr. Enns said. “Do not torment people by having to have a result.”

The lack of reporting specific numbers in a community is not exclusive to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a principle in public health to not report small numbers of reportable conditions. That was the case with the opioid crises, Dr. Enns said. Until there were 10 or more overdose deaths in a community, the numbers were applied to the North Island as region. Only when they got higher in a specific community were they then reported for that community.

The people working on the crisis have enough distractions to deal with and don’t need more, especially when it comes from other healthcare professionals, Dr. Enns said.

“We all need to be pulling in the same direction and most of the healthcare community is,” Dr. Enns said.

But some people feel the need to get on their high horse and make uninformed statements.

“And that’s not helping any of us and it’s certainly not helping the community that’s looking to us to provide the reassurance that we have their back, we’re working on their behalf and that we are all going to go through this together.”

RELATED: B.C. reports 3 new COVID-19 deaths, as number of cases rises to 472


@AlstrT
editor@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Improved health and social services needed

It’s imperative that the root systemic causes of homelessness are addressed, say letter writers

Province providing financing to help get apartments built in Nanaimo’s Wellington area

120 apartments on Ledgerwood Road intended to be affordable for ‘middle-income’ households

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Regional District of Nanaimo to start delivering new garbage carts

Updated automated curbside collection service set to get underway Oct. 1

Nanaimo RCMP want speeding motorists to ‘slow the blazes down’

Police raise alarm after seeing 400-per cent rise in excessive speeding tickets last month

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Departure Bay ferry capacity increases to 70%, says B.C. Ferries

Fifty-per-cent limit being phased out, B.C. Ferries has no current plans to provide masks

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Outreach team making connections with young people experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo

Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre youth advisory council initiative offers ‘no-barrier’ help downtown

City of Nanaimo challenges families to Instagram their park explorations

ParkIt challenge set up to offer prizes to cap off days at the park

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Most Read