Surge of seasonal residents could threaten our most vulnerable states Prince Edward Family Health Team

Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

SARAH WILLIAMS

STAFF WRITER

The Prince Edward Family Health Team (PEFHT) has joined the ranks of those asking cottagers and seasonal residents to not self-isolate in Prince Edward County.

Citing a lack of resources at our rural Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital (PECMH) along with an aging, vulnerable population, local doctors strongly urged part-time residents to come here at another time.

“We are facing a global pandemic with the rapid spread of COVID-19. Before you choose to reside at your seasonal residence, we are asking that you consider our limited medical resources in Prince Edward County,” read the statement.

PEFHT reminded those looking to ride out the storm at their-or somebody else’s- County cottage that PECMH is a small, 18 bed facility. The physicians that staff that hospital are small in number, each working in their own clinics as well.

The numbers don’t lie. Although PECMH is in many ways a great hospital, the size and scope of its resources reflect the rural nature of this locale.

Perhaps most worrisome considering the seriousness of COVID-19, PECMH is not equipped with an intensive care unit. And, there are only two ventilators on site, which may or may not already be in use.

“PECMH is a small, 18 bed hospital staffed by a small pool of local physicians. The same group of physicians staff their own clinics, the emergency room, four long-term care homes, and provide care to our hospital in-patients,” stated PEFHT. “PECMH is not equipped with an ICU, and has only two ventilators that are used for transportation of critically ill patients. Our closest ICU is 45 minutes away.”

PEFHT also noted they anticipate regional ICUs will be strained from supporting COVID-19 cases within their radius and the transport of critically ill COVID-19 patients further endangers the life of emergency health providers such as paramedics and nurses.

“Transport of patients between our hospitals and larger centres is challenging, but moving COVID-19 patients will put emergency health providers (paramedics and nurses) at risk. We have extremely dedicated nurses, paramedics and support staff who are being asked to give beyond what they should be asked of them,” noted PEFHT.

Like many, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford, the local family health team is urging Canadians to stay at home, home being their place of permanent residency, in order to mitigate the damage done by the Coronavirus.

“We collectively have a lot of work to do,” PEFHT stressed. “We look forward to resolution of this pandemic. We look forward to a time when we can truly rest and enjoy our County again. Until then, we ask that you recognize the limits of our local health care system and consider remaining at your primary residence.”

PEFHT stressed the need to recognize-and protect- the large group of vulnerable seniors in this community.

“We also need to acknowledge the large proportion of senior citizens in our community. They are the most vulnerable during this pandemic. They rely on us all to keep us safe,” they stated.

The local family health team emphasized that seasonal residents staying away from the County at this particular time allows them to focus on giving the local population the best possible care.

“This will allow us to focus on giving our local patients the best possible care we can provide,” they stated.

For those visitors or seasonal residents who profess to love the genuine nature of the County, its people and places, there could be no better way to express that love than by staying away at this time.