LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 30, 2020: 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 North Shore. The press briefing was led by Ms. Dyane Benoît, the Deputy Director General, Dr. Richard Fachehoun, medical consultant to the CISSS de la Côte-Nord, and Dr. Stéphane Trépanier, Public Health expert.
Ms. Dyane Benoît, Deputy Director General, opened the briefing by speaking about the recent announcement by the Government of Quebec for the planned opening of certain regions of the province. For the North Shore, the planned opening will be on May 18th, Minganie and the Lower North Shore’s control points will remain without an opening date at this time. The CISSS asks that people avoid travel from one region to the other if not essential. Working from home is still encouraged if possible.
Preventative measures are still asked to be respected; such as social distancing of 2 metres, and hand washing. Public gatherings continue to be prohibited, even with the re-opening of regions and nicer weather, we must abstain from this.
With regards to activities resuming with many businesses, the population is invited to visit the website of l'Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) at www.inspq.qc.ca for proper measures to be put in place for businesses and shops for their re-opening. There are printable checklists and prevention guides for all workplaces. These tools are for employers and employees of all sectors. The CISSS is preparing in the coming days/weeks to support the concerned partners of businesses that will be opening, schools and daycare centres.
The CISSS de la Côte-Nord is counting on the responsibility of all to respect the instructions put in place since the beginning of the pandemic.
There were no new cases this week on the North Shore, stated Dr. Richard Fachehoun, medical consultant to the CISSS de la Côte-Nord. “You know, it’s true that we have started the progressive adjustments.”
According to Dr. Fachehoun, there will need to be three conditions to optimize results for the progressive adjustments:
Dr. Fachehoun would like to remind the population that the actions of individuals is important for limiting the transmission of COVID-19, especially during the adjustment phase. We do not want to risk going backwards.
With the recent announcement by the Government of Quebec of police check points and road blocks beginning to be lifted in the Month of May, CFBS inquired as to what is the position of the CISSS regarding the lifting of road blocks on the Lower North Shore in the near future. Dr. Stéphane Trépanier, Public Health expert, answered that he had spoken with the mayors of the Lower North Shore on Tuesday regarding this. The mayors are requesting that check points and road blocks remain in place. It is the position of the CISSS to continue the points of control on the Lower North Shore and Minganie until May 18th, at which time it will be reassessed if the need should be extended further.
At the last CISSS press brief, CFBS inquired about the services available for mental health in the region, especially with the added stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CISSS had reminded the population of the Info Social 811 telephone service line, but CFBS asked today for clarification if there are follow ups done with callers who contact the Info Social 811 service. Dyane Benoît, the Deputy Director General, stated that there are follow ups done with anyone who contacts the service, and that follow ups are conducted by a psychologist or a social worker.
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 29, 2020: BLANC-SABLON, Q.C – YEAST SHORTAGE ON THE LNS
We have all heard the stories of the mass buying of toilet paper that had taken place at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as people feared that there would be a lack of the sanitary product, store shelves were quickly emptied. But now the newest grocery item to see a decrease, or lack there of on store shelves, is bread yeast.
This fact hit home when my elderly mother called me yesterday evening from my hometown of St. Augustine, all flustered, "Is there any yeast to buy in Blanc-Sablon?" she asked. She went on to explain that there was no yeast to buy locally, and with my Dad loving homemade bread like the air we breathe, she was in a frantic search for this now precious commodity.
Joining the yeast search effort, I placed calls to the local grocery stores in Blanc-Sablon and Lourdes, just to be confirmed the very same, that yeast is currently not available. Perry Barney explained to me this morning, "We had a very limited supply since a few weeks ago, and now when we try to order more, we are told that the item is out of stock or not available."
Feeling defeated in my search coming up empty, I placed a call back to St. Augustine and broke the news to my Mom. "Well that's no good, what can we do?" she said. And then the plan was hatched, "You can mail what you have left in your cupboard!"
So through the craziness of this pandemic, and the stories that we will all tell when it is finally over, I will be heading to Canada Post today to mail my Mom the precious yeast from my pantry.
So why is there a shortage of yeast currently?
Bread production is up between 15 and 20 per cent since the COVID-19 crisis hit hard in North America, with increased demand for bread products from both industrial customers, and from the general population. Yeast is one of the key ingredients in bread, along with flour and water. Bread sales have jumped significantly, as has the amount of people baking bread at home.
So treasure the yeast you currently have, as for now it is a luxury!
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 28, 2020: 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 North Shore. The press briefing was led by Ms. Dyane Benoît, the Deputy Director General, and CISSS Medical Consultant, Dr. Richard Fachehoun.
Dyane Benoît began by speaking about Quebec Premier François Legault’s decision to send elementary children back to school. Ms. Benoît reiterated the fact that even thought certain activities and businesses will recommence, like daycare centers and primary schools, that it must be a slow and gradual deconfinement. “We must not act like the pandemic is over; we still have to take this seriously,” she added.
The CISSS de la Côte-Nord continues to ask residents to respect the social distancing requirement of 2 metres, and reminds of the importance of hand washing. Social gatherings are still not permitted, families and get togethers are not allowed. It was also said that the deconfinement of the population would be progressive. Ms. Benoît stated, “We understand that with the weather becoming nicer, people want to get out and go to the beach, or play sports. We understand it’s tempting, but we are asking the public not to go in this direction.”
For the moment, there is no questioning by the Government of Quebec concerning the police checkpoints that remain in place to limit travel to the essential traffic only.
Ms. Benoît also understands that grandparents are waiting to see their grand children. “However, at this point, elderly people need to remain in confinement. The CISSS de la Côte-Nord recommends to continue levels of communication with elderly loved ones threw social medial/video chat,” said Ms. Benoît. She also reminded that the elderly population should only leave their homes for essential activities, or for emergencies. It was also reiterated that if anyone has medical questions or if in need of a medical consultation for COVID-19, to please call 1-877-644-4545. If anyone is feeling anxious or stressed, to please call the phone line 811 Info-Social for assistance.
Dr. Richard Fachehoun, medical consultant to the CISSS de la Côte-Nord, spoke briefly about the amount of confirmed COVID cases on the North Shore. To date there are 113 in total, of which 85 people are considered cured, and that 28 people are currently in self isolation. Questions arose regarding the Government of Quebec website, which noted today that there are 114 cases of COVID-19 on the North Shore. Dr. Fachehoun answered that the CISSS assessment of 113 cases is indeed correct. A problem in the computer algorithm system is the origin of the difference between the numbers reported on the Government of Quebec website.
It was mentioned last week that there would be clear directives released from the CISSS de la Côte-Nord to the public regarding senior COVID cases being sent by medevac, and if an escort could join the patient at hospital. CFBS inquired for an update on if a decision had been made regarding the senior medical transports. Dyane Benoît, Deputy Director General of the CISSS, answered that although certain rules apply for children under the age of 18, for adults at the moment it is not possible with the evacuation regulations. Although, she added, that for humane reasons, or case-by-case, there can be other ways of transporting people.
With the return of elementary children to school in May, CFBS inquired on the current position of the CISSS regarding isolation measures for seniors on the Lower North Shore and if they too will be allowed to resume some normal daily activities in the near future. In response, Ms. Benoît said that for all of the elderly population of the region, it will be important to respect the social distancing protocols, it is going to be a gradual deconfinement.
CFBS also brought up the lack of mental health services on the Lower North Shore and inquired on the plan of action of the CISSS de la Côte-Nord to provide mental health care to the population, especially with the added stress of COVID-19. Ms. Benoît acknowledged that on the side of psychological counselling, there are certain difficulties in terms of access to staff, but once again reminded that 811 Info Social, option 2, is available to all of the population, and there will always be someone who is available to respond to calls for this type of service.
CFBS asked about the re-emergence of COVID-19 cases on the North Shore recently. Last week there had been two days of 0 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the North Shore region, and then there were new cases confirmed again this past weekend, and if this was possibly due to delayed test results. Dr. Richard Fachehoun answered that it is not due to delayed results from the tests. For two days, there were no new cases, and then the CISSS had received a positive test. He also stated that currently, there are no significant delays when it comes to receiving COVID test results. “We are actually averaging two to three days and then we have the test results, we even get results practically the same day that the tests are taken” added Dr. Fachehoun.
LOCAL NEWS – APRIL 27, 2020: BLANC-SABLON, QC.
A second check point has now been set up at the Québec/Labrador border as of this morning. This new check point is a directive of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to gather information by way of a survey of those who are crossing the border on the Labrador side, and also to ensure that those who are entering or exiting the province of Newfoundland and Labrador have a valid reason to do so.
Chad Letto, Mayor of L'anse au Clair and Chair Person for the Combined Councils of Labrador, said that the new check point on the Labrador side is a provincial directive to control the Labrador border. It is currently being overseen by officers from the Forestry and Land divisions (Wildlife, Land and Forestry). The officers will be monitoring the movement on the Labrador border, gathering statistics, and completing a questionnaire with motorists.
Mr. Letto said that the agents at the border had recently received training in health and security measures for the operation of the border check point, which included procedure training and tips on how to approach people for this type of questioning. Mr. Letto also said that The RCMP cannot patrol the Labrador/Québec border, as this directive is not in their mandate.
Denis Chartier, of the Sûreté du Québec in Blanc-Sablon, also confirmed the set up of the other border check point today by email. He stated that as of this morning, there were vehicles of both the Wildlife office and a representative of Labrador Health at the border check point. Mr. Chartier mentioned that motorists will now experience an added delay to cross the border of approximately 5 to 10 minutes, in order to complete the questionnaire.
CFBS has been following the directives taking place on the Québec side of the border since March 28, 2020 when the COVID-19 directive from the Québec government to patrol the border for essential traffic was put in place. This check point has been monitored by the Sûreté du Québec in Blanc-Sablon and will continue to be in place to ensure that the provincial directives are being adhered to on this side of the border confirmed Mr. Denis Chartier, of the Sûreté du Québec.
LOCAL NEWS - Sunday April 26, 2020 - BLANC-SABLON
The local Food Bank in Blanc-Sablon is ready to serve those in need of their services during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the service is open 12 months a year and available currently for the communities from Blanc-Sablon to Old Fort Bay.
Brenda Joncas, a volunteer member of the local food bank, spoke with me today about the services they offer through the Notre Dame Church in Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon, how to contact the service for those in need, confidentiality, and the discussions taking place for the expansion of the service to the whole Lower North Shore region.
Listen to the interview with Brenda Joncas by clicking on the sound file below (click on the speaker icon next to the sound file and a media player will open up to hear the interview).
LOCAL NEWS - Thursday April 23, 2020 - LOWER NORTH SHORE
The CISSS de la Côte-Nord updated its COVID-19 webpage, as of 1:15 pm this afternoon there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 announced on the Lower North Shore. Most importantly to note, this is the first day that 0 new cases were announced for the North Shore territory.
In total, there are 112 confirmed cases in the North Shore region since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Here is the current breakdown by MRC:
The daily updates are given by the CISSS on their website:
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 23, 2020 - PAL AIRLINES TO SUSPEND THEIR PASSENGER SERVICE ON THE LOWER NORTH SHORE
PAL Airlines states in a press release issued today that it has made the difficult commercial decision to temporarily suspend their current passenger and cargo services to the Quebec Lower North Shore.
The service from Blanc Sablon-Natashquan-La Romaine-Chevery-St. Augustine-Sept-Iles will operate its final flight on Thursday, April 23, 2020. PAL Airlines will continue to monitor the current situation and assess a potential return to service.
Sept-Iles and Blanc Sablon will remain important destinations for PAL Airlines connecting directly to multiple points in our extensive network throughout Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Air Borealis will continue to operate mail delivery flights to the Quebec North Shore. Mail delivery flights will operate as usual on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 22, 2020 - MAYOR WANDA BEAUDOIN GIVES AN UPDATE TO THE POPULATION
An update from the Mayor of the Municipality of Blanc-Sablon, Wanda Beaudoin, regarding:
Listen to the interview with Mayor Beaudoin by clicking on the sound files below (click on the speaker icon next to the sound file and a media player will open up to hear the interview).
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.
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 22, 2020: LOWER NORTH SHORE - CISSS DE LA COTE NORD HAD REQUESTED PASSENGER CAPACITY LIMIT ON AIR LIAISON FLIGHTS DUE TO COVID-19
During the press brief held yesterday afternoon (April 21) by the CISSS de la Côte-Nord, a question was asked regarding the procedure for the hospital air carrier, Air Liaison, after passengers were complaining of flights being to full capacity last week on the Lower North Shore and that no directives were being issued by the airline staff for passenger distancing.
Dyane Benoît claimed to have been aware of the situation and that an intervention had been made with the transporter to resolve the situation. Ms. Benoît, the Deputy Director General of the CISSS de la Côte-Nord, stated that the CISSS had transmitted clear protocols to the air transport, particularly regarding the disinfection of the aircraft.
CFBS reached out to Pascal Paradis, Communication advisor, Human Resources and Communications of Legal Affairs for the CISSS de la Côte-Nord, to obtain more details on what protocol the CISSS had asked of its medical air carrier, Air Liaison. This was the response received from Mr. Paradis by email:
"Distancing between passengers is on a voluntary basis on the part of carriers. Transport Canada has not issued a directive on this matter. A directive has been issued by Transport Canada on the arrangements to be made when booking and before boarding. The CISSS de la Côte-Nord asked the carrier not to take more than 8 passengers per flight."
CFBS was made aware of the situation yesterday morning when a lady from Blanc-Sablon, who was on board an Air Liaison flight last week for medical reasons, had mentioned that passengers were not given any directions on social distancing, were seated in close contact to each other on the flight, and that the plane was near full to capacity.
CFBS has also reached out to Air Liaison for a statement regarding their protocols, more information to come.
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 21, 2020: LOWER NORTH SHORE - CISSS DE LA COTE NORD OFFERS INTERPRETER SERVICES IN ENGLISH AT SEPT-ILES
An English interpreter and accompaniment service is being offered in the Sept-Îles facilities of the CISSS de la Côte-Nord as announced on the CISSS Facebook page.
This service is for anyone who is English speaking and travelling to Sept-Îles to receive Health or Social services.
The role of the interpreter includes:
• Welcome clientele and inform them of the available services
• Support clientele in English language during an episode of care
• Guide the English speaking clientele to the adequate resources
• Link Services
• Act as an interpreter
Call 418-965-7621 to access the service or pick up the phone at the entrance of the emergency department at the main entrance of the hospital, at 45 rue du Père-Divet in Sept-Îles.
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 21, 2020: LOWER NORTH SHORE – A SHOUT OUT TO THE LOWER NORTH SHORE FROM NEWFOUNDLAND ARTIST JIM PAYNE
This is a shout out to send our very best wishes in these difficult times to the folks on the Lower North Shore of Quebec who welcomed us into your communities over the past couple of springs. We missed you this year, but we remember you all in song.
It’s also a note to let you know that I’ve added a new page to my website <singsonginc.ca> in response to the shutdown, and the impossibility of doing live performances. It’s a page for individual songs not previously released on CD, and it just opened to public access over the weekend. I’ve been doing some recording for it, and I expect other musicians with whom I’ve spoken will add songs as well. It’s really a way to find an outlet after the cancellation of our live gigs, especially for those of us who can record at home. New songs will be added regularly as the shutdown continues, and all songs will be available for download.
A message from Jim Payne
Listen to Jim's song by clicking on the sound file below (click on the speaker icon next to the sound file and a media player will open up to hear the interview).
PHOTO: New Ranger Recruit, Damon Etheridge (left) and Master corporal (MCpl) Section 3, Wayne Beaudoin (right) of the Blanc-Sablon Canadian Rangers Patrol Group.
PHOTOS: On duty, Ranger Dwight Anderson and Corporal Gordie Buckle of the Bonne-Espérance Canadian Rangers Patrol Group, Ranger Colten Roberts delivering groceries in Bonne-Espérance, and Ranger Jarred Rogers shoveling out a resident's front door after a snowfall.
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 19, 2020: LOWER NORTH SHORE – CANADIAN RANGERS PATROLLING THE LNS
Residents of the Lower North Shore have seen their local Canadian Rangers Patrol Groups active in their communities throughout the weekend, from patrolling the streets of the communities to delivering groceries to the seniors or issuing reminders about social distancing. Depending on the needs of the communities, each local Canadian Rangers Patrol Group has a different mandate.
CFBS was speaking with Sergeant Warren Letto, of the Blanc-Sablon Canadian Rangers Patrol Group, about what duties the local Rangers had over the weekend. Sergeant Letto said that there are 12 Rangers active currently in the Municipality of Blanc-Sablon, they are working in 3 groups of 4 Rangers at a time. Their patrol hours will be from 8:30am to 9:30pm, seven days a week, and they will be working in 3 shifts during those hours.
Sergeant Warren Letto said that the Blanc-Sablon Canadian Rangers Patrol Group currently have the following mandate:
Sergeant Letto also explained that at the current time, the Blanc-Sablon Rangers are not working at the border, ferry or airport check points. However, this may change in the future depending on the situation and if there is a need for this directive.
CFBS was also speaking with Sergeant Wayne Spingle, of the Bonne-Espérance Canadian Rangers Patrol Group, about the directives of their Rangers. Sergeant Spingle said that in their Municipality, there are currently 16 Rangers who are active. There are 4 Rangers working on a shift and that there is two shifts per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon from 8:00am to 4:00pm.
Sergeant Wayne Spingle said that the Bonne-Espérance Canadian Rangers Patrol Group currently have the following mandate:
Sergeant Spingle also mentioned that the Bonne-Espérance Rangers will be taking note of anyone who is not following the health directives to report the incident to the Sûreté du Québec office in Blanc-Sablon.
The MRC du Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent had been requesting that the Rangers be deployed since the beginning of March to aid the Lower North Shore communities since prevention of the novel coronavirus became a major concern on the Basse-Côte-Nord Territory.
On April 15th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Military assistance from the Canadian Rangers on the Lower North Shore to help communities deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic after receiving a request from the Government of Quebec. This came after the federal Government accepted the first demand from the Government of Quebec for help from the Canadian Armed Forces for the community of Nunavik.
As of 1:30 pm today, it was announced on the CISSS de la Côte-Nord website that there is still no cases confirmed on the Lower North Shore of COVID-19, only 1 other MRC of the North Shore, the MRC of Caniapiscau, also remains at 0 confirmed cases.
(Photo screenshot of CISSS Medical Consultant, Dr. Richard Fachehoun, at the Press Brief)
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 16, 2020: 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 North Shore. The press briefing was led by Ms. Dyane Benoît, Acting Assistant Executive Director, and CISSS Medical Consultant, Dr. Richard Fachehoun.
The Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de la Côte-Nord is pleased that the Canadian Rangers will assist on the Lower North Shore territory, a meeting had taken place between the CISSS de la Côte-Nord and the Rangers yesterday afternoon to discuss logistics.
CFBS inquired as to what specific role did the CISSS request the Rangers have in the Lower North Shore Communities. It was explained that the Canadian Rangers will be monitoring and ensuring the application of all measures, to help with food distribution if needed, and to also support the CISSS for certain points of control or awareness and screening areas if needed. Their tasks would be adjusted according to the different needs of the Lower North Shore communities.
With it now being stated that the COVID-19 critical children's cases are to be allowed to have an escort if transferred to hospital, CFBS asked what is the current position for the seniors of the Lower North Shore being transferred and if they too will be approved for an escort? It was stated by Ms. Dyane Benoît, the Acting Assistant Executive Director, that discussions are currently in progress with regard to the seniors who are transferred and that the directives will be confirmed in the coming days.
It was also asked if a person who tests positive for COVID-19, depending on the situation, would a nurse visit them at home or would there only be telephone interventions to provide care. It was explained that the procedure is to begin with telephone interviews, depending on the health status of individuals and if there are other cases at the time, the CISSS would adjust the treatment according to these factors to provide care.
For the North Shore territorty, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 currently sits at 101 as of Thursday afternoon. According to CISSS medical consultant Richard Fachehoun, 57 people have recovered so far on the North Shore from coronavirus.
(Photo of Dr. Marie-Pascale Harbec)
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 16, 2020 - LOWER NORTH SHORE
An update for the people of the Lower North Shore from Dr. Harbec of the Blanc-Sablon Hospital.
Dr. Harbec explains the process for anyone who will be tested for COVID-19, the procedure for positive COVID-19 test cases, child hospital transfers, and the procedure for the use of the ventilators at the Blanc-Sablon hospital.
Listen to the interview with Dr. Harbec by clicking on the sound file below (click on the speaker icon next to the sound file and a media player will open up to hear the interview).
(Photo of Mr. Randy Jones, Warden of the MRC du Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent)
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 15, 2020 - LOWER NORTH SHORE
An update for the Lower North Shore from the Warden of the MRC du Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent, Mr. Randy Jones. This afternoon we discussed the role of the Canadian Rangers in the communities as well as other files that the MRC mayors are currently working on for the population of the Lower North Shore.
Listen to the interview with Mr. Jones by clicking on the sound file below (click on the speaker icon next to the sound file and a media player will open up to hear the interview).
LOCAL NEWS – APRIL 14, 2020: MUNICIPALITY OF GROS MECATINA
The Community Easter Basket, bringing smiles to all while respecting social distancing.
I spoke with Tina Leon from La Tabatière over the Easter weekend and she was delighted to tell me about the Community Easter Basket idea that she had. Children were asked to participate in a community initiative to boost morale during the Easter holiday where they were able to add their own eggs to the basket.
A display was set up at the Municipal building in La Tabatière to showcase the community Easter basket. Unpainted wooden eggs were on display and children were invited to stop by and pick up a wooden egg from a container to take home and decorate. Once their artwork was complete, they returned the eggs to the container at the Municipal building in La Tabatière.
In total, 20 children had participated in the community Easter Basket, filling the basket with beautiful hand painted creations that were enjoyed by everyone. Tina said it was a great way to spread some cheer by having a fun activity that the children could participate in during the Easter holiday while still respecting the health guidelines set for everyone. A fun activity enjoyed by the two communities of La Tabatière and Mutton Bay, way to go everyone and Happy Easter!
(Dr. Dominique Ouellet-Gagnon of the Blanc-Sablon hospital and Constance Monger, CISSS Territory Coordinator for the Lower North Shore - Photo screen shot taken by Abbygail Wellman from CISSS press briefing)
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 9, 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 North Shore and the Lower North Shore. The press briefing was led by Ms. Dyane Benoît, Acting Assistant Executive Director, Ms. Constance Monger, Territory Coordinator for the Lower North Shore, and Dr. Dominique Ouellet-Gagnon of the Blanc-Sablon hospital.
With Easter weekend approaching, the CISSS would like to remind the population to continue to follow the health guidelines that have been set; no gathering in large groups outside of immediate family within the home unit, to continue to practice social distancing and for those who have been isolating to continue to do so for your protection. Testing areas are ready in each Lower North Shore community located at your local CLSC or the hospital in Blanc-Sablon at the ambulance garage. A reminder was also given that anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms to first call 1-877-644-4545 (LOCAL 1-418-644-4545), you will then be directed on what to do. Users are reminded to first call your local health centre before coming in to the clinics or hospital to have your needs addressed. Non-essential businesses are being asked to continue being closed until May 4th for the time being.
Regarding the phone calls recently placed to seniors on the Lower North Shore by the local nurses asking what level of care they would want to receive should they become ill with COVID-19, Ms. Constance Monger, Territory Coordinator for the Lower North Shore, stated that the objective was not to worry the population. The purpose was to receive more information on the needs of the population, as some may choose to be hospitalized and others may wish to remain in their communities, to be aware of what services are available. All residents of the Lower North Shore who are critically ill will be medevacked to Quebec City, there will be no choice of going to the hospitals in Blanc-Sablon or Sept-Iles due to this being the staging point for emergency care of COVID-19 for our region. She added that it is important that the seniors be made aware of this.
CFBS mentioned that the CISSS stated in the media that all sick patients would have the option of being transported and that all would receive care, so then what exactly what was the purpose to question the elderly population and what was the CISSS intending to do with the numbers and info from that survey? Dr. Dominique Ouellet-Gagnon said that those who are ill would receive care and could be transported if they choose, but that it is important that everyone be aware that there will be no escorts allowed on the medivac transfers, no one would be allowed to have a family member by their side while sick in Quebec at the hospital. The seniors need to be aware of this information in order to make their decisions and discussions need to take place between the seniors and their families about this.
CJAS Journalist Rachel Bilodeau pressed further, asking who had given the mandate to call the seniors on the Lower North Shore with these questions and also if an apology would be issued, to which Ms. Monger stated that it was a team decision to call the seniors, apologies are being made to those affected by the previous contacts.
CJTB Journalist Mickael Lambert asked why do this survey only on the Lower North Shore if all the patients on the Lower North Shore will need to be transport to Quebec alone? Ms. Monger said that we don't have quite the same reality as everywhere else. If someone in Tête-à-la-Baleine gets very sick in the middle of the night, we can't take him out until the next morning and only if the weather permits. Dr. Ouellet added that it is even more relevant to discuss it on the Lower North Shore since it is a predominantly English-speaking population and there are many people who are reluctant to go to Quebec, alone. We are talking about not being well understood even if there are interpreters available and the distance is very great. Mr. Lambert of CJTB also inquired on if the calls are necessary to make and if they will restart the process again, to which it was answered by Dr. Dominique Ouellet-Gagnon that the calls were stopped to readjust the process of the questions, that it was well received by some and not so well received by others.
I had asked if there should be a major COVID-outbreak on the Lower North Shore, what is the maximum number of medevac planes that the CISSS de la Côte-Nord is considering to acquire to transport patients, since it was recently revealed in the media that the CISSS has already repatriated another medivac plane for the region now stationed in Sept-Iles. Ms. Dyane Benoît and Ms. Constance Monger gave information that there is 1 medevac plane currently stationed in Blanc-Sablon available along with the repatriated plane with Skyjet that is now located at Sept-Iles. The CISSS de la Côte-Nord also has access to emergency services from Évacuations aéromédicales du Québec (EVAC) and that there would also be other transportation that could be given by consequence as well if there should be a major pandemic, but that thankfully there is no cases at this time.
I inquired on what extra materials in preparation for COVID-19 has been sent to the clinics of the Lower North Shore as well as the hospital in Blanc-Sablon, and if there could be a possibility of receiving another ventilator on the Lower North Shore. It was stated by Ms. Constance Monger that the CISSS had ordered more ventilators for the North Shore territory. But added that it is important to note that the Lower North Shore’s patients will be mostly transferred by medevac, so at this time there is no need for extra ventilators on the Lower North Shore.
I also specifically asked if there has been any information yet regarding venues on the Lower North shore serving as emergency places to house the sick (but not critical) should the health establishment not have enough beds in the hospital or clinics and if there was information on deploying the Canadian Rangers on the Lower North Shore. Ms. Constance Monger said that at this time there is no plan to have a separate venue for the general population who may become ill with mild symptoms of COVID-19 to isolate, at this time they are only focusing on separating the elderly in care facilities should the need be there. Regarding the Rangers, it was requested by both the MRC Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent and the CISSS de la Côte-Nord for deployment, the CISSS was seeking help to install the tents for testing but no positive answer has been given so far.
I had also pressed for information on the procedure process for those who are tested for COVID-19 and the exact level of community awareness given by the health establishment to those in the community who have been in contact with a probable COVID case. Ms. Monger stated that all who are tested are given clear directives to go on 14 day isolation as well as to their family members who were in contact. Also, an awareness sheet called “Isolation at Home” is given to each person, they also have contact with their local health centre for any questions. CFBS still is seeking information specifically on if others in contact with a probable case are made aware to isolate as well, or if this is reserved for confirmed cases only.
More to come, CFBS will continue to follow the updates from the CISSS de la Côte-Nord and bring you the info as it unfolds.
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 9, 2020 - LOWER NORTH SHORE
Doing Our Part on The Lower North Shore for COVID-19
Medical Mask clips being produced on two 3D printers 12 hours a day in St. Paul's River and two very handy craft ladies in Blanc-Sablon making thick cotton face masks for people in their community. Abby speaks with Lana Rowsell of St. Paul's who along with her son Christian is working on the the medical mask clips for the LNS. I also spoke with Melvina Maurice of Blanc-Sablon who along with her friend Viola Ryland, are busy making the handmade masks. Coasters with their family and friends making a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Listen to the interview with Ms. Rowsell and Ms. Maurice by clicking on the sound file below (click on the speaker icon next to the sound file and a media player will open up to hear the interview).
(Marilène Gill, Bloc MP for Manicouagan)
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 6, 2020: LOWER NORTH SHORE
CFBS received correspondence from Marilène Gill, MP for Manicouagan and Spokesperson for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, regarding discussions currently taking place to possibly postpone the fishing season once again, this is due to many fishermen from the region voicing their concerns in recent days about returning to the waters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meetings had taken place today with the Wardens of the MRCs of Manicouagan as well as with the Restraint Committee of the Lower North Shore, Minganie and Sept-Rivières. They will be meeting again tomorrow in order to address requests to DFO and the Minister.
Marilène Gill, MP for Manicouagan and Spokesperson for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard also mentioned that fishermen would be eligible for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
More info to come from CFBS.
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 5, 2020: LOWER NORTH SHORE
The Commission scolaire du Littoral has set up two challenges for students to do from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges are open to all students of this school board on a voluntary basis.
The math challenge site (English only) is for grades 1 - 11 is a set of word problems that is updated each week. Participants with the correct answer will have their name entered for a weekly prize. Here is the link: https://bit.ly/spsmrsmath
The next challenge is called the creativity challenge (bilingual site). Students can enter drawings, writings, music, baking and so much more. The intention is to provide a space for them to share their creations during our time apart. All participants names will be entered for a draw at the end of the academic year. The sites are open to all students of on a voluntary basis and can provide some fun activities to do at home while having a chance to win a prize. Here is the link: https://bit.ly/CSLCreate
Please keep in mind that these challenges are for students under the Commission scolaire du Littoral territory.
LOCAL NEWS – APRIL 3, 2020 – LOWER NORTH SHORE
TELUS Smart Hub residential customers located in the Lower North Shore region receives a data increase on High Speed Internet
Residents of the Lower North Shore on a TELUS Smart Hub residential plan may have received a phone call recently from a TELUS representative notifying you that you they have increased the data on your High Speed Internet. This is being offered by TELUS to help keep you connected to family and friends during the COVID-19 pandemic without limitations.
CFBS reached out to TELUS for a statement and received this information from Jacinthe Beaulieu, of TELUS media relations:
“As a technology company, it is more important now than ever before for us to help our communities stay connected and safe. To support our customers located in the Lower North Shore region, we are increasing the data on High Speed Internet with Smart Hub residential plans, offering 1 TB of usage at no extra charges. This is triple the amount an average household uses and it will help our customers in the region stay informed and virtually connected with their loved ones during these extraordinary times” says Jacinthe Beaulieu.
Also, a reminder to local TELUS clientele in the Blanc-Sablon area; it was posted on the Facebook page of JL Joncas Inc. asking local TELUS customers to please contact the kiosk for your needs by phone during this time, they will be happy to assist you while maintaining minimum contact for your safety and that of employees.
(Constance Monger, CISSS de la Côte-Nord Territory Coordinator, photo screen shot from press briefing by Abbygail Wellman)
LOCAL NEWS - APRIL 1, 2020: LOWER NORTH SHORE
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 North Shore and the Lower North Shore. The press briefing was led by Ms. Dyane Benoît, Acting Assistant Executive Director and person responsible for peripheral territories, and Ms. Constance Monger, territory coordinator – Lower North Shore.
It was stated that the COVID-19 testing clinics are operating currently in the communities of Blanc-Sablon, Kegaska, La Romaine, Chevery, Harrington Harbour, Tête-à-la-Baleine, La Tabatière, St. Augustine and St. Paul’s River. In Blanc-Sablon, the tests are carried out in ambulance garages. In the CLSCs, the screening for COVID-19 is done in designated spaces connected to the facilities. All tests (samples) are done on appointment. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, breathing difficulties and in some cases the symptoms may be minor, others may be more serious in nature. Residents experiencing symptoms, must first call the COVID-19 phone number 1-(877) 644-4545 or local at 1-(418) 644-4545 to arrange an appointment. Should a resident have trouble with communication, they can call their local clinic for assistance.
The CISSS de la Côte-Nord would like to stress the importance of residents of the coast to avoid regional travel, especially village to village. Seniors are reminded to stay home, to please take advantage of the delivery services being offered in your communities.
It was decided this afternoon by the Municipality of Côte-Nord-du-Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent in collaboration with community volunteers to set up a road block in the community of Kegaska. This road block will be overseen by community volunteers and controlled by the local residents.
An update was also given regarding the preparation taking place at the Blanc-Sablon hospital for COVID-19 patients; ventilators are on site, two negative pressure rooms are installed, 25 extra beds can be added if need be, medivac services will be available for those who would need extra care. A temporary place of hospitalization could be set up in Blanc-Sablon if the need arises at a hotel. But, to this date, discussions with the owners have not yet been completed.
CFBS asked what measures are being put in place to assist the Blanc-Sablon hospital if there is a large amount of COVID-19 cases, since there is only 1 respiratory therapist and 3 respirators for a population of approx. 4000 people on the Lower North Shore. Ms. Constance Monger, territory coordinator, said that the CISSS de la Côte-Nord is working hard to get another respiratory therapist.
CFBS also inquired as to what the procedure is going to be for patients from Labrador whose doctor is located at the hospital in Blanc-Sablon and seeking medical care across border. Ms. Constance Monger said that at this time, all patients from Labrador as well as locally must make an appointment when coming to the hospital in Blanc-Sablon. Depending on the need, Labrador patients are referred back to their own hospital if the care can be given there instead. Doctor patient conversations are taking place over the phone at this time. When CFBS asked specifically about absorbing Labrador COVID-19 patients at the hospital in Blanc-Sablon, Ms. Constance Monger said that the hospital will not be taking any COVID-19 patients from Labrador.
Questions were also raised regarding if COVID-19 patients elsewhere on the Lower North Shore would be sent to Blanc-Sablon, it was stated that specialized needs cases would instead be sent to Quebec City.
There will be a meeting tonight with the CISSS de la Côte-Nord to have more clear directives for nurses coming into the region from other areas, as there is some concern raised about protocols.
It was also asked if the Lower North Shore communities would be able to know when there is a case in specific communities, the answer given by Ms. Dyane Benoît, Acting Assistant Executive Director and person responsible for peripheral territories, was that after a certain number of cases, we will share the information direction but their hope is that it will not come to that.