Maintain that coronavirus regimen and help support STEGH this fall and winter


city_scope_logo-cmykEarlier this spring, we referred to them as the other victims of the coronavirus. Those individuals whose lives had been put on hold as their elective surgeries and procedures were postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At that time, the province released details of the framework to be adhered to by hospitals as they prepared to tackle the backlog of surgeries.
St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital president and CEO Robert Biron said there was a backlog of well over 1,000 surgeries staff would have to deal with.
Moving forward, a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal at the end of August suggested clearing the backlog across the province could take 84 weeks.

We touched bases again this week with Biron to determine whether that is the reality at STEGH.
His best estimate last month was a backlog of 850 surgeries.
“We’ve obviously seen some improvement in the reduction of cases in our waitlist, which is good news.
“The other good news we can share is our operating rooms are back to capacity.”

Robert Biron STEGH

By that, Biron explained, all of the operating rooms and the hours they can be open are back to where they were pre-pandemic.
“What that says is if we didn’t have the backlog, we would be back to normal.”
However, Biron agreed there is that backlog to address.
And, technically speaking, that backlog of 850 surgeries could be cleared in about six weeks, noted Biron.
“But, as you can appreciate, we get new cases every day so what we have to do is whittle that backlog down.
“So, our surgeons look at their waiting list on a regular basis and prioritize those cases in terms of severity.”
It’s going to require considerable juggling, not to mention time and patience, but the hope, suggested Biron, is to have much of the backlog cleared by next March.
With a significant caveat.
“Assuming COVID doesn’t create more problems for us in the winter.”
To be on the safe side, Biron says that is exactly the scenario STEGH is preparing for. You also have to factor in the severity of influenza in the coming months.

“The community continues to support the hospital in terms of doing their part by social distancing, wearing masks and washing their hands and maybe we’ll get through the next wave in a way that was as good as the first wave.”

“I would say every hospital in Ontario faces the flu season and most often it seems to peak in December and sometimes well into February and March.
“And so we have increased activity in the emergency department and obviously some people have to be admitted for care as well.”
There may be a ray of hope, however, as Biron notes there is debate amongst medical experts as to whether this flu season will be as harsh as in previous years.
“Because of all the precautions and public health measures put in place, such as hand hygiene and social distancing, all those things have helped reduce the spread of any disease, including the flu itself.
“So, it’s possible we’ll see a lower case volume for the flu season this year. We’re planning for the worst, but hoping for the best.”
That could include a second COVID-19 wave at the height of the flu season.
But, it all comes down to community members maintaining the coronavirus regimen this fall and winter.
“The community continues to support the hospital in terms of doing their part by social distancing, wearing masks and washing their hands and maybe we’ll get through the next wave in a way that was as good as the first wave.”

Related post:

https://ianscityscope.com/2020/05/09/weve-been-able-to-bend-the-curve-but-were-not-out-of-the-woods-yet/

A FRESH LOOK AT BYLAW CALLS

With a significant spike in incident calls to St. Thomas Police over the past five years, should they be burdened with handling bylaw complaints?
A report to city council from St. Thomas Police Services Board chairman Dave Warden on Monday’s (Sept. 14) agenda is asking members to expedite having city bylaw enforcement officers respond to noise, parking, animal and other bylaw matters as permitted to assist the St. Thomas Police Service with managing a large volume of incidents.
st. thomas policeThis goes back to October of last year when the police services board passed a resolution requesting bylaw officers assist police with bylaw-related incidents.
In June of this year, members of the police service met with city officials to discuss moving forward with downloading specific bylaw-related incidents to bylaw enforcement officers.
That same month, council voted in favour of supporting this move.
We’ve talked with Chief Chris Herridge on several occasions regarding the steady increase in reportable incidents dealt with by police.
At the end of last year, the police service was the recipient of $870,000 in provincial dollars under the new Community Safety and Policing Grant program over the next three years.
The funding is to help provide ongoing training to enhance frontline officers’ knowledge and abilities in supporting survivors of human trafficking, add a new Street Crimes police officer, provide the necessary resources to maintain the position of Technological Crimes Investigator and help develop a social media awareness campaign to encourage the public to be an active police partner on the issue of human trafficking.

“The St. Thomas Police Service has to take a fresh look at how officers respond to calls and unfortunately, given the increasing demand on policing, bylaw enforcement calls for service will be prioritized at a lower response level unless public safety is a concern.”

The funding announcement came at the same time the police service recorded 20,089 reported incidents, surpassing the 2018 record of 18,846 incidents.
According to Warden’s report to council, that number is projected to surpass 22,000 this year.
Most notable is the continued increase in property crimes, from 1,021 criminal charges in 2015 to 2,148 last year.
Instead of dealing with bylaw matters, what is needed is “an enhanced visible police patrol deterrence, including the adequate time to focus on preventing and investigating criminal activity,” according to Warden’s report.
While apologizing for any inconvenience to the public Warden stresses, “The St. Thomas Police Service has to take a fresh look at how officers respond to calls and unfortunately, given the increasing demand on policing, bylaw enforcement calls for service will be prioritized at a lower response level unless public safety is a concern.”
And, how about all those calls regarding raccoons behaving in an unusual fashion?

Related posts:

https://ianscityscope.com/2019/12/14/surge-in-incidents-human-trafficking-basis-for-substantial-grant-to-st-thomas-police-service/

https://ianscityscope.com/2019/01/09/minimal-staffing-and-an-increase-in-crime-a-perfect-storm-for-2019-budget-advises-st-thomas-police-chief/

COUNCIL SHUTS DOWN HERITAGE DEBATE

Coun. Steve Peters has called it “a critically important piece of the heritage of St. Thomas” and he is not giving up the battle to have council declare Trinity Anglican Church a heritage property under the Ontario Heritage Act.
He’s drawn blanks at the two summer meetings of council and he was snubbed again at Tuesday’s (Sept. 8) session.
Trinity Anglican Church sold

A letter from the city’s Municipal Heritage Committee (MHC) clarifying several matters dealing with the designation was before council at the meeting.
Coun. Peters suggested, “I’m hoping with this letter we can proceed with the initial recommendation that has been made back in July (to designate the property) and I certainly would move that motion.”
After a very uncomfortable pause, no member of council offered to second the motion and, again, Peters was stymied in his efforts to protect an architecturally significant piece of the city’s history.
Previously, Peters acknowledged the MHC is willing to be flexible in any preservation talks.

“I think the heritage committee needs to be asked to appear before the reference committee so that council gets a clear understanding of what their role is.”

“I think with the deliberations of the committee (Municipal Heritage Committee) the primary focus was the four walls of the building. While we would like to see the interior preserved, we had to offer some flexibility.”
The church was sold earlier this summer to an unknown purchaser.
Peters wasn’t finished, however. When it came to the new business portion of the meeting, he noted in the reference committee meeting to follow, council would be talking about topics for possible discussion at future sessions.
“I would like to see the heritage committee invited to that.
“I want to express my deep disappointment that nobody would second that motion this evening so that we at least could have had a wholesome discussion.
“But, that was your decision. I think the heritage committee needs to be asked to appear before the reference committee so that council gets a clear understanding of what their role is.
“And the role we should have in ensuring we preserve our heritage for future generations.”
The disappointment and bitterness were clearly evident in Peters’ tone of voice directed toward his fellow members of council, face-covering or not.
If we’re not mistaken, it was London developer Shmuel Farhi who once referred to St. Thomas as the Bermuda Triangle of heritage properties.

Related posts:

https://ianscityscope.com/2020/07/18/ontario-nurses-the-doug-ford-government-is-targetting-us-at-a-time-when-were-supposed-to-be-recognized-as-heroes/

https://ianscityscope.com/2020/08/15/st-thomas-now-has-a-face-covering-bylaw-but-does-it-have-any-teeth-should-it-need-any/

THE READER’S WRITE

Susan Gerry passes along the following thoughts based on last week’s item on strategic priorities for St. Thomas. She has also included a handy link to rentboard.ca where you can find a comparison of apartment rental rates in the city.

“I believe we got the list right! But there is a difference between market value and affordable. When you consider basic ODSP and CPP are less than $1,200 per month and currently new builds and average apartment rent for one-bedroom starts at $1,345 … definitely going to be a problem. And some are beginning to add utilities on top of that.”

You can access the info at: https://www.rentboard.ca/rentals/rental_rates.aspx?locid=4831&fbclid=IwAR3i1-rxg1WXJ1dcDS7hgVOzK-qQ07A7VwD4u5HmwEs2U3_DcrNMFD1KAk0

Questions and comments may be emailed to City Scope

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And a reminder, I can be heard weekday afternoons as news anchor and reporter on 94.1 myFM in St. Thomas. As always, your comments and input are appreciated.

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