The following is an open letter to Island Health medical health officer, Dr. Charmaine Enns.
Dear Dr. Enns,
I would greatly appreciate your consideration here of this request – an open-letter – I am writing on behalf of my ~1,600-patient practice in Comox, B.C. where I live and work in hospital and clinic settings.
Like many of my colleagues, I have been working consistent 12-14-hour days to address the needs of my patient population since the spring – addressing my sizeable chronic, complex care population, ‘tuning them up’ to the best of my abilities and addressing the invariable – and considerable – anxieties this global COVID-19 pandemic has wrought.
There has also been a sizeable impact on my younger patient population, including an anecdotal increase in anxiety and mental health challenges, as well as my opioid-dependence patient population, including tragically two overdose deaths in this period.
In light of markedly increased rates of COVID-19 test positivity and prevalence in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, which stand in stark contrast with the low rates we have preserved in the Island Health region, as well as clear violations of Public Health guidelines including well documented Oct. 31, 2020 public celebrations in downtown Vancouver, I would respectfully ask that, as our North Island Medical Health Officer, you consider advocating for an Island Health regional COVID-19 ‘bubble.’ As PHO Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the week of Oct. 26, you now have the scope and authority for more region-specific guidelines. I hope that you and our Public Health officers continue your excellent work to date, and move forward with the leadership our region needs.
There is ample evidence from Atlantic Canada, Australia, New Zealand and East Asia of the efficacy of this approach where there are stark differences in prevalence (see https://tgam.ca/3ehoHUu and graph from Statistics Canada data, below).
Alexander E. Nataros, Port Augusta Family Practice, Comox BC
BSc MD CM CCFP