LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 22, 2020: LOWER NORTH SHORE – CISSS PRESS BRIEF COVERAGE
A press briefing was held this afternoon by the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de la Côte-Nord (CISSS de la Côte-Nord) regarding the COVID-19 situation on the Lower North Shore. The press briefing was led by Ms. Dyane Benoît, Deputy Director General, Ms. Constance Monger, Territory Coordinator for the Lower North Shore, and Dr. Stéphane Trépanier, medical advisor to the CISSS de la Côte-Nord.
Ms. Constance Monger, Territory Coordinator for the Lower North Shore, spoke about role that the Canadian Rangers currently have on the Lower North Shore territory. The Rangers are raising awareness to residents about social distancing and health safety, as well reminding the population that no gatherings are permitted. If needed, they can offer logistic support to the CISSS de la Côte-Nord. The mandate for the Canadian Rangers Patrol Groups is set through Civil Security. The request for the activities of the Rangers in the communities are a collaboration with the CISSS, the MRC and Public Health. Every task that is requested of the Rangers can be revised, as needed. It was stated by Ms. Monger that the role of the Rangers is to offer services that is not already being offered in the communities. If stores are already offering grocery delivery, then they would continue to do so, the Rangers assitance is for services not already available in the community.
A designated clinic is now open at Blanc-Sablon for anyone experiencing any type of flu like symptoms, an appointment must be made in advance for a visit by calling 1-877-644-4545. For the Lower North Shore communities with a CLSC, you may contact them to arrange an appointment if you have any flu like symptoms.
The CISSS also spoke about services for those who may experience any type of psychological distress. The Info Social phone number 811 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can assist a person in need with help by speaking with a professional. The CISSS also spoke about the mental health of children and youth, with reminders to be vigilant if someone is in distress. If you are concerned about a young person, do not hesitate to contact health services.
Ms. Monger also wished to thank the population on behalf of the CISSS de la Côte-Nord, for abiding by the requests that have been issued to the public and for following the guidelines thus far for the safety of the communities.
With COVID test results now being studied by laboratories on the North Shore, CFBS asked what is the estimated wait time presently for results of a test taken from the Lower North Shore. It was stated by Ms. Constance Monger that the time frame would depend on the transport, weather conditions and the time of the flight. At this time, it is estimated the results could be received on the Lower North Shore in 24 to 48 hours.
The CISSS de la Cote Nord had requested that the medical air transporter Air Liaison, limit their capacity to 8 passengers per flight. When inquired as to what steps would the CISSS take with Air Liaison to ensure the safety of patients if the airline would not comply to requested maximum capacity on board a flight, Ms. Constance Monger stated that the CISSS had issued the directive already to Air Liaison to have no more than 8 passengers on board a flight. Recently, they have reminded Air Liaison again of this directive. No other details were given at this time.
CFBS asked about the medevac plane stationed in Blanc-Sablon, and if the set up on the plane is the same as the one based in Sept-Iles for COVID cases. It was already stated in a previous CISSS press brief that this plane can also be used to transport COVID-19 cases if needed on the Lower North Shore. When asked what changes would be needed to outfit the plane for a COVID evacuation, it was stated by Ms. Monger that the equipment on the plane does not change, it is the protective gear that changes when dealing with a COVID case. When dealing with a COVID case on a medevac flight, the nurse, pilot and anyone else on board the flight would need to be wearing the proper protective gear during the transport.
It was also discussed about deconfinement issues, as recently it is being discussed in the media of regions discussing the possibility of allowing certain services to be resumed. CFBS inquired as to if the Lower North Shore is being discussed as an area to possibly begin deconfinement since there are no current COVID-19 cases in our region. Dr. Stéphane Trépanier, the CISSS medical consultant, said that deconfinement would need to be progressive in any area. The Lower North Shore has no risk at the moment of COVID, however, with the amount of elderly population in communities and those with chronic issues in the region, to experience an outbreak would be a major challenge for the region. Physicians and doctors at the CISSS would need to evaluate the situation further. Dr. Trépanier stated that currently they are not prepared to open up the Lower North Shore.
CFBS asked about the senior medical cases who have already been evacuated off the Lower North Shore, if Public Heath should decide to allow seniors to have an escort in the near future, would those already in hospital from our region be allowed to have a family member join them there. Ms. Constance Monger said that this would be evaluated on a case by case basis.
It was also asked by other media on the Lower North Shore if people would be made aware if there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in their Lower North Shore community. It was answered that COVID cases would not be announced by Public Health, only as a region by MRC. However, Public Health may issue a letter to the Mayor of the respective Municipality to notify there is a positive case confirmed in their community.
It was also discussed about the new Transport Canada directive regarding passengers now required to wear homemade face masks on public transportation, such as airlines and helicopters. The CISSS stated that this is for the protection of all when travelling by any means, it can also be used within the community as additional protection. Important to note is that masks are not supplied by the transporters, instead it is up to the individuals to have a homemade face mask to be permitted to travel.