The Mountaineer’s daily COVID-19 update is a community collaboration, providing a centralized information resource highlighting Revelstoke’s response to the public health and economic crisis.
In today’s update, the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons tells doctors they can no longer disclose the location of COVID-19 positive patients, Interior Health adapts to PPE shortages, Rogers Pass winter touring is done, the City of Revelstoke plans to bring bylaw officers back to work, and more.
Doctors ordered to stop sharing location of COVID-19 positive patients
B.C. doctor’s are no longer allowed to disclose the location of patients with COVID-19.
The B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons said it had learned of instances where information about individual cases and test results had been shared with the press or on social media “including the identificationof certain smaller communities.” The college has ordered doctors to refrain from disclosing the location of COVID-19 positive patients, stating doing so could be viewed as unprofessional conduct.
On March 17, Selkirk Medical Group shared information about Revelstoke’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 on its Facebook page, saying they felt it was better for the community to “hear it locally first.”
“We would like to encourage and support Revelstokians. This was inevitable. We are choosing at this time to confirm that Revelstoke has our first positive COVID-19 case in community,” the statement read.
One other clinic in the Interior Health Region also chose to go public with information about a positive COVID-19 patient. The Sunpeaks Health Clinic went public with information about a doctor who worked at the clinic who had tested postive for COVID-19.
The college said disclosing the location of COVID-19 patients is “unacceptable.”
“Physicians must not disclose information about individual patients in any setting, including stories shared directly with other people, even if patient identities are not revealed. The risk of a privacy breach is too great,” the college stated.
Interior Health plans to reuse disposable personal protective equipment as supplies are pinched
With the local MLA posting on Facebook asking for anyone with spare personal protective equipment (PPE) to donate it to a local hospital, saying doctors and nurses are saying it’s something they “desperately need” to do their work, we checked in with Interior Health on the situation.
Interior Health spokesperson Susan Duncan said she “couldn’t go into PPE supplies at every site,” but said Interior Health was working to distribute available equipment across the health region. “Health authorities meet daily, review inventory levels by health authority as well as new PPE arriving regularly, and prioritize where it goes based on the need.”
The N95 mask, a special variety of face mask that offers the wearer some protection from virus infection, is in short supply, and Interior Health has plans to sterilize and reuse the normally disposable masks.
Duncan also said that IH acute care sites will begin the collection of used disposable N95 masks, which, “will be sterilized and stored as part of a provincial initiative for emergency backup supply to regular inventory.”
The Mountaineer has also heard from other Interior Health employees that they are being asked to alter their practices and continue wearing disposable masks and other PPE when they would have normally disposed of it and put fresh equipment on.
We asked if there are ways Revelstoke residents can help, Duncan said IH is working on sourcing and redistributing PPE. “A team has been pulled together in PHSA to manage the outpouring of offers of support from suppliers and manufacturers both locally and globally,” Duncan said. “Through this work we know that millions of pieces of PPE have been secured for our supply chain, and they continue to follow up on new sources daily.”
Revelstoke dentists announce plan for emergency dental care
Revelstoke dentists say they will continue to comply with recommendations to suspend all clinical operations until further notice. On March 16, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered B.C. dentists to self-isolate after it was discovered an individual attending a dental conference in Vancouver in early March had tested positive for COVID-19.
The Revelstoke Dental Clinic posted a letter on its Facebook page on March 24, stating dentists are following the recommendations of provincial health officials, the College of Dental Surgeouns of BC, and the BC Dental Association.
“We are in the acceleration phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk of community transmission between patients and our teams is simply too high. Our clinics are not equipped with the personal protective equipment that is now advised for performing dental procedures,” the statement, which was signed by all of Revelstoke dentists, read.
Patients experiencing a dental emergency will be able to access a dentist via telephone or video consultation, but physical treatement is not available. The letter stated life-threatening dental emergencies will be referred to Queen Victoria Hospital.
“This type of management is obviously not our preference, but a necessary precaution in this stage of the crisis,” read the statement.
In a March 26 letter, Mackenzie Dental Centre noted a Regional Centre for Emergency Dental Care is currently being created in Kelowna. Pending the arrival of personal protective equipment, the emergency clinic is expected to be operational starting Monday, March 30.
“We are waiting to receive instructions on how to refer our patients. Please understand there will be a triage protocol in place, and patients will have to be patient,” the letter stated.
Parks Canada closes backcountry, Winter Permit Areas
Parks Canada has announced the closure of backcountry and Winter Permit Areas in Glacier National Park. In a statement on its website, Parks Canada said “all visitor areas, access points to the backcountry and Winter Permit Areas in Glacier National Park will be termporarily closed until further notice.”
Parks Canada is also suspending all visitor services and motor vehicle access by visitors to its parks until further notice. In Glacier Nationa Park, parks staff and the Canadian Armed Forces will continue to conduct avalanche control in Rogers Pass.
Here in Revelstoke, Parks Canada has also closed access to Mount Revelstoke National Park including the Meadows in the Sky Parkway and the Nels Nelsen Historic Area Parking. They have also closed the Parks Canada Administration Office in Revelstoke.
“The health and safety of Canadians, visitors and Parks Canada team members is our top priority,” reads a statement on the Parks Canada website.
Parks Canada says it will re-evaluate the temporary closure on an ongoing basis.
City to bring back bylaw enforcement officers on Monday
The City of Revelstoke plans to have bylaw enforcement officers back at work on Monday, March 30.
The bylaw officers stopped working sometime around March 13, the same time many non-essential city staff were laid off. It’s unclear the exact date.
Provincial and federal governments have started announcing fines and penalties for non-compliance with health orders, and in other cities, bylaw staff have been used to enforce compliance with the new legally enacted COVID-19 restrictions, shutting down businesses that were not complying with regulations, breaking up large gatherings, and generally having a presence on the streets, raising awareness of the restrictions.
In response to a question from the Mountaineer about why bylaw officers were not on the job during a time when COVID-19 compliance enforcement was needed, City of Revelstoke Chief Administrative Officer Dawn Low said bylaw staff hadn’t been laid off, but that “there was a series of other circumstances that hand them away from the office.” Low did not respond to an email with follow-up questions we sent on Friday afternoon.
On March 12, just before the city started announcing closures of events, the Mountaineer contacted city staff to enquire about plans to cancel public gatherings. During that email exchange, city staff said they were enacting their emergency plans. At that time, the Mountaineer requested more information on the city emergency plans, but city staff did not respond to the request.
Have an update on COVID-19 you want to share?
Revelstoke, we need your help to keep the daily COVID-19 updates going. Each day, we will compile newsworthy local briefs about COVID-19, highlighting Revelstoke’s response. Do you know someone in the health care industry, who is on the frontlines helping fight the COVID-19 crisis here in Revelstoke? Maybe a care aid, nurse or even an instrument sterilization technician? We want to share their stories.
How can I make a submission?
The Mountaineer is only accepting submissions for the daily Revelstoke COVID-19 update via our Submit-A-Story feature (here’s the link). All submissions require a photo and a write-up of around 200 words.
Due to limited resources emailed submissions will not be accepted for inclusion in the daily update.