(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.