Physicians urge everyone to stay at least six feet apart

by Rob Perry of The Aylmer Express

All current and some retired primary care physicians and nurse-practitioners in Elgin and St. Thomas issued a joint letter on Friday, March 27, imploring local residents to stay at least two metres or six feet away from anyone not in their own household in order to check the spread of COVID-19. With the number of cases in Elgin and St. Thomas at four as of Friday afternoon, during a telephone press conference arranged by South Western Public Health, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Joyce Lock said some might start to think that physical distancing wasn’t working.

“Stay the course,” she stated. “It will work.”

Dr. Aric Sudicky, a St. Thomas family physician, said doctors, nurse practitioners and their staffs remained “committed to your health and will be with you through the COVID pandemic.” Health care workers “can’t solve this alone,” he said. Everyone had to do his or her bit. Individuals and businesses might be under stress because of the situation, but conditions would become far worse “if we don’t flatten the curve” of increasing infection rates. If that didn’t happen, he warned, the health care system would be overwhelmed.

Asked by the Express if they had any specific concerns about places where distancing wasn’t being observed, Dr. Lock said some “could take this a bit more seriously,” especially in parks and beaches. That was difficult, she acknowledged, because those were where everyone usually got together to have fun and socialize, and in encountering others, remaining a distance apart was challenging. “We all just have to be a bit more mindful,” she said.

Dr. Sudicky said he seen local residents out for a walk with a neighbour, at first observed the six-foot separation but, over time, inching closely together. He suggested, “Picture your family as your own little bubble,” and no one should risk “popping” their or anyone else’s bubble.

The letter in full:

To all our patients and the citizens of St. Thomas and Elgin County, there is no doubt that NOW is the time for all of us to do our part to curb the spread of COVID19.

While there are only a small number of cases confirmed in Elgin at this time, we know that this is under-reported as we are only swabbing people admitted to hospital. We now have com-munity spread of the virus within Canada and Southwestern Ontario and time is of the essence for implementing changes to “flatten the curve” before this pandemic overwhelms our healthcare system.

As the physicians and nurse practitioners who have dedicated their careers and their lives to keeping you healthy, PLEASE heed our advice. The time is now to STAY AT HOME WITH YOUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY.

Do NOT: – Attend playdates with friends from school – try virtual playdates! – Go to crowded places – Have family or social gatherings such as dinner parties – use technology to keep up with friends and family!

Please, do what you can to AVOID contact with people outside of your immediate family as much as possible. Work from home. Do what you must to isolate in your home.

Keep trips to the grocery store short, and only send one family member.

For local business owners, we fully appreciate that temporarily closing your business will be of great hardship for you. For those of you who own restaurants/bars: we thank you for continuing to provide take-out/delivery options only, as per our provincial mandate. For those of you in other industries that closed before you were required to, thank you.

For those of you who are considered an essential service, please do NOT request “sick notes” from your employees. In the coming weeks the physicians in our community will be “on duty” 24/7 and may not be able to provide these notes.

If you are asked to provide a sick note, please note that the Ontario government has introduced legislation that will eliminate the need to provide a sick note during the COVID-19 outbreak.

If you have travelled ANYWHERE OUTSIDE OF CANADA, please SELF-ISOLATE FOR 14 DAYS, WHETHER YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OR NOT. If you develop symptoms after your return home you must self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days from the time of your return, or until 24 hours AFTER your symptoms have resolved, WHICHEVER IS LONGER.

For most people who develop a fever and/or new or worsening cough after returning to Cana-da from international travel, testing is no longer recommended. You are simply asked to stay home and self-isolate.

For information on how to self-isolate, go to: https://www.hpph.ca/en/about-us/covid-19-response-resources.aspx.

Monitor yourself for symptoms while you are in self-isolation. For information on self-monitoring, please go to: https://www.hpph.ca/en/about-us/covid-19-response-resources.aspx.

If you develop a fever, new or worse cough, or shortness of breath please access the “SelfAssessment Tool” created by the Ontario Ministry of Health. This tool can be found at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-self-assessment.

Mild symptoms can be treated at home with rest, fluids and acetaminophen. You may also call your family physician’s office, Ontario Telehealth (1-866-797-0000) or your local Public Health Unit (Southwestern Public Health https://swpublichealth.ca 1-800-922-0096 x9).

CHANGES TO OFFICE PROCEDURES You may be asked to reschedule appointments with your family physician and to change how you access care. These changes may include having appointments by telephone or online/virtually or refilling your prescriptions at a local pharmacy.

Please be flexible. Take confidence in the fact that all changes implemented are done so with the sole intent of protecting you, your families, our health care providers, and our community from COVID-19 and making the best use of our collective health care resources at this time. In coordination, we are hoping to spread the message broadly. This is not just one of us advising. This is your body of health care expertise begging you to heed our warning.

STAY HOME so that we can give our healthcare system a fighting chance through what will undoubtedly be its biggest challenge ever. Thank you and please, stay safe and keep yourselves, and the rest of us, healthy.

EAST ELGIN FHT: Dr. Anne Howe Dr. David Graham Dr. John Tokarewicz Dr. Michael Fernando Dr. Charlotte Taylor NP Tracy Nancekivell NP Janet Froud
ELMDALE FHO: Dr. Anusha Perera Dr. Melissa Tenbergen Dr. Annie Keeler Dr. Mateusz Zajac Dr. Alison Wright Dr. Kim Thompson Dr. Katrina Huszarik
CENTRAL CHC: Dr. Mohammed Ziada Dr. David Lum NP Laura Moon NP Jessica Johnston NP Rebecca Shepherd
ELGIN FHO: Dr. Mike Toth Dr. Ahmed Kamar Dr. Brendan Boyd Dr. Chamberlain Ajogwu Dr. Collins Egbujuo Dr. Connie Robinson Dr. Darius Ho Dr. Dave Gregory Dr. Derek Vaughan Dr. Ed Vivoda Dr. Elsie Osagie Dr. Jeff Balsdon Dr. Jonathan Carter Dr. Ken Morrison Dr. Kenneth Bezuidenhout Dr. Kristen Richter Dr. Peter Sharman Dr. Rick Goodhew
ELMWOOD FHO: Dr. Kellie Scott Dr. Paul Fox Dr. Scott McIntosh Dr. Kehinde Olorunsola NP Laura Van Dam
WEST ELGIN CHC: Dr. Kevin Mardell Dr. Karl Astaphan Dr. Rebecca Bond Dr. Kasia Rycerz NP Janelle Johnston NP Krista Bodkin NP Judith Tigert NP Stephanie Aldom
WINDEMERE FHO: Dr. Aric Sudicky Dr. Afiza Elahi Dr. Lisa Dayus Dr. Dave Dougherty Dr. Christian Paradis Dr. Joe Mai Dr. Brian Hertwig NP Kathryn Underhill NP Layal Alaeddine
SOLO: Dr. Scott Barrett Dr. Emil Grigore 
RETIRED: Dr. John Bryans Dr. Bob Floyd Dr. John Hofhuis Dr. Bob Jones