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COVID hopefully has provided healthy lessons

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The battle against COVID-19 has been a global secret with the unknown. More than a century has passed since a resulting virus and health crisis of this magnitude has led the world on the journey of insecurity, fear, suffering and death.

The 2019 Corona Virus 2019 really started spreading concern in early 2020. In an article posted on March 2, 2020 and updated on March 13, 2020 by The Canadian Press, it was reported that a man in his fifties had arrived in Toronto from Wuhan China on January 25, 2020

Wuhan was the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak and this individual became the first presumed case of this new coronavirus in Canada. He was in isolation when his wife became the second alleged case.

This news launched a host of investigations by health experts around the world. Care then became troubling, then reluctance came in, then guidance began to grow as scientists and public health officials began advising federal and provincial governments on appropriate approaches to public safety.

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The COVID-19 guidelines have changed steadily for over a year, the spread of vaccines has had its ups and downs creating a furious panic among those who cannot get an appointment no matter how hard they try.

But there are those who say they were so deadly ill with a respiratory infection in the fall of 2019, long before COVID-19 hit the world stage. Individuals I know personally, no doubt insist that they had COVID-19, long before the world knew what COVID-19 was.

They testify that they are so sick, with difficulty breathing, fatigue and inability to function in daily living activities. But when COVID-19 was identified they connected the dots and stand firm it was COVID-19.

I trust them because their symptoms were like symptoms of COVID-19s.

But it was too long in the pandemic that many care homes began to experience high and unacceptable levels of deaths from COVID-19. The Canadian Army was called in to help the staff and to care for these elderly people who were suffering precisely from lack of care.

They died only because families could not visit due to pandemic restrictions.

Army reports were harsh, reducing poor staffing levels, while residents were placed with up to four in a room, separated by only one curtain. The number of deaths from COVID-19 escalated and benefit homes seem to make up the bulk of the deaths.

For staff to make a living, many worked in more than one care home, making the spread of the virus much easier. This was not the fault of the staff but rather the result of inadequate staff and standard salaries.

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According to a CBC News report in March, Canada has the worst record for COVID-19 deaths in long-term care homes compared to other rich countries. This data was collected by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

The report went on to say that from March 2020 to February 2021, more than 80,000 residents and staff members in care homes were infected with COVID-19. The outbreaks occurred in 2,500 homes with 14,000 deaths to follow.

When more than 1,500 members of the Canadian Armed Forces settled in 32 of the most affected homes in Ontario and Quebec in the spring. They reported poor infection prevention and control practices with insufficient medical equipment and training, unavailable personal protective equipment.

Furthermore, they reported that residents are denied food or not fed properly and extensive staffing problems. So when you only have two PSWs available to care for over 30 people, day after day, it is not rocket science to know how this will end.

Low staff morale for no staff morale; always under arms to perform, but without the resources needed to give care even below standard. Resulting in no care. These for 32 profitable houses, should be closed, fined, charged and their license revoked forever.

The federal government promised to set new national standards for long-term care, but ultimately, it will be between the federations and the provinces to decide how to fulfill that promise.

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That’s the discussion, I think all of them are going on right now, and the provinces feel a lot of that territory of their own, said Tracy Johnson, director of health system analysis at CHHI.

Our elders have become a political footballer who will support his ugly and deadly head the next time a pandemic strikes; and it is a matter of time, not if not but when.

Then there are those who think this is all just a hoax, they deny COVID-19 exists by refusing to be self-isolated, where a mask and distance from others. Some of the most extreme deniers go to parks and hold rallies, bike lanes and shout at riders who are out to relax.

I really do not care much about your well-being, but I do care about myself, my friends and my family. You can kill any of us because you have your beliefs, but ultimately you would live your life without knowing if you harmed someone because you would refuse testing and tracking.

But one thing the pandemic has taught me is this; never take anything for granted because there is always another health alarm near the corner. Hopefully, we have learned our lessons and will have up-to-date and abundant personal protective equipment for health care providers and first responders.

Also, Canada must resume funding the scientists and research laboratories in which they work to resume once again the production of vaccines here within our country. We should never have to beg, borrow or steel valuable medicines, which will ultimately keep us self-sufficient and safe.

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I finally learned that life as we know it can change for a coin. This pandemic has left me feeling like I can only do so much to stay safe, but that what I do is better than nothing.

I have been a fascinator of vaccines since my parents took me back in 1952, as the vaccine was available, to prevent polio. This debilitating and potentially deadly disease put many children in the iron lungs so that they could breathe.

Later I got measles, mumps and pneumonia. God only knows how I got pneumonia when I was four years old, but I remember telling my mom I couldn’t breathe and I noticed clouds all over my bedroom.

The next thing I knew I was at Matthews Memorial Hospital in Richards Landing on St. Joseph Island. Dr. Trefry took care of me, I survived to tell the tale because he would go across the road to buy me an ice cream cone, which I found out was later linked to penicillin.

He bought ice cream and added the antibiotic for me to take. As I got older from hood to adolescence, vaccinations were a prerequisite for school, high school, after high school, and then a job in health care with flu shots.

My arms are flooded with needles that would keep me safe. Well, here I am still living and able to talk about it. My boys had to be vaccinated so they could go to school.

But since they were mandated to face the bullet, instead of staying home from school forever, things have changed. A child may not eat a peanut butter sandwich at school, but others may attend unvaccinated class against these childhood diseases. Go figure.

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As a result, based on scientific evidence and data, childhood diseases that were eradicated worldwide are returning. Anti-vaccines have the right to refuse to be vaccinated against any deadly disease including COVID-19 under the Constitution of Canada.

I want to be sure, especially about foreigners, and my safety is supposed to be ensured within this same Constitution. But I am living between the peanut butter sandwich and those who decide to stay unvaccinated.

Where are those rights that concern me and like-mindedness? What recourse should I be able to maintain my safety among foreigners whose choices differ from mine?

I am very aware that there are those who have serious allergies or health conditions, which can damage their safety if they get a vaccine. Pregnancy is another possible exception, especially if the baby may be suffering or at risk due to the mothers ’choice to get a vaccine.

These are legitimate concerns and healthcare providers are on the move to provide advice and guidance to those who are unsure which path to take. I take it as an ordinary person and as a nurse. There are always exceptions to the rules.

Return to COVID-19. I hope Canada shows the world that we are a happy and relieved nation to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Hopefully, we can surpass at least 75 percent of our citizens who have been fully vaccinated.

Then we hope to continue with life and peace, love and rock n roll.

Patricia Baker is Sault Star District correspondent, retired Area Hospital columnist and nurse

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