Leaked Windsor Hospital memo allows health staff to work without self-isolation after trips

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Agatha Farmer

A health worker from the Ontario Shores Centre leaked a Windsor Hospital internal memo to Global News which advised doctors to return to work after arriving from trips abroad without adhering to the 14 day isolation period.

The memo dated Thursday March 19, 4 days into a state of emergency in Ontario, and written by the hospital chief of staff stated that while all staff who have travelled outside of Canada should self isolate for 14 days, an exception will be made for "critical workers." Here is the cherry on top as the memo states the following.

"At this point, due to the provincial state of emergency, vacation schedules, and being a border city, Windsor Regional Hospital is deeming all employees and professional staff "critical."

This advice was based on a memo from the Provincial Medical Officer of Health which stated;

"If there are particular workers who are deemed critical, by all parties, to continue operations, I recommend that theses workers undergo regular screening, use appropriate Personal Protection Equipment for the 14 days and undertake active self-monitoring including taking their temperature twice daily to monitor for fever and immediately self-isolate if symptoms develop and self identify to the occupational health and safety department."

In other words our top medical official has given the green light to doctors, nurses, and frontline hospital staff returning from abroad to return to work without self isolation. The same top medical official responsible for advising the government on how to keep Ontario residents protected from the spread of COVID-19. A formal resignation might offer some dignity at this point, however, a class action lawsuit on behalf of all Ontarian's for knowingly endangering lives might wake up this clueless bunch of bureaucrats.

Ontario's minister of health Christine Elliott released a response to the leaked memo and stated that "in consultation with health system partners, yesterday the provinces' Command Table made the decision to update guidance to frontline care providers to self-isolate for 14 days after returning abroad. This is in line with the guidelines provided to all Canadians. This guidance has been shared with the health system."

Interestingly the Windsor Regional memo was written on March 19, a day after Elliott claims that guidance on isolation was passed down to the frontline care providers. Here comes the most irresponsible statement a health minister can make during a global pandemic which will more than likely push our health care system over thresholds we haven't yet experienced.

"While we strongly urge health system partners to abide by our guidance, this is not a directive," Elliott added.

It's a directive to all Canadians so that we can flatten the curve, however, during a provincial state of emergency the minister of health can't issue a directive to health personnel to save the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities by practising simple prevention guidelines. Much the same as she can't answer if the first COVID-19 death in Ontario, which according to the ministry occurred on March 11 is actually a confirmed case. Let's not underestimate that if the deceased tested positive port mortem it's clear he was not tested while alive even though he had close contact with a COVID-19 patient as confirmed by the Simcoe Muskoka District Public Health Unit.

The current management of this health crisis paints a picture of a panicked, unprepared, unorganized, and frankly incompetent leadership. This is visible in every press conference Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health, participates in. It takes a special kinda miscommunication blunder to have the Toronto Public Health Department publicly announce community spread while having top medical Ontario officials deny community spread at the exact same time during overlapping press conferences. When asked about the screening of the massive amount of snowbirds coming back into the province, it was revealed that currently there is no management or screening protocols specifically for that. Where was the emergency preparedness team who should have been working on this when the first cases began to spread to Europe? Asleep at the wheel.

We would like to think that we have faith in our public officials but when they implement an emergency plan which leaves businesses and employees with more questions than answers; when employees who are not an essential service should be at home social distancing but business owners are unsure if they should close due to financial uncertainty and have zero direction from provincial officials. Same officials who ignore the advice of front line doctors to shut down all non-essential activity in the province because commerce and the "supply chain must keep going" it makes one question what is actually important to this government. Health of its residents is certainly not at the forefront. Urging citizens not to gather socially in big numbers but continue to work in big numbers just to meet a commerce quota is rather dystopian.

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