Over the past two years, ‘We’ve all been on a bit of a treadmill’ – outgoing medical officer of health Dr. Joyce Lock

city_scope_logo-cmykThe region’s medical officer of health spent her last day in that capacity on Thursday (March 31) and we caught up with Dr. Joyce Lock in the waning hours of her tenure at Southwestern Public Health.
With just a day to slip by before retiring, she called the countdown “surreal.”
“Retirement is always this vague endpoint many, many miles on the horizon. And to think I am actually there, is astounding.
“We spend so much of our lives working and having our jobs be a major focus in our daily living, so to make the transition to where it will not be, does bring mixed feelings for sure.”
She was an emergency physician for 25 years in the Burlington area before transitioning over to public health and she spent eight years with the health unit.
The last two years completely preoccupied with COVID-19.

“As painful as the pandemic has been for all of us and, in no way do I not want to mention there are many who have passed away and many who have longer-term symptoms from COVID, but from a public health point of view, I felt very privileged to be permitted to be a key player at this crucial time for public health in Ontario and for the world.
Dr. Joyce Lock“For me, it’s a very memorable ending to my public health career and will always be very appreciative for the connections that I made through the work of the last two years.”
She added, “It’s been a challenge for me and a challenge for all of the staff at public health.
“It was a constantly changing landscape as we dealt with an organism at the start that we knew nothing about to then learning how to deal with all the variants and learning about the vaccine and now about the antivirals.
“And there have been constantly changing guidelines and directions for organizations, businesses and individuals.
“It’s been a big job for me and a big job for the health unit and a big job for businesses, recreational facilities and every organization out there.
“They’ve had to learn and to adapt and to constantly change through it all.
“We’ve all been on a bit of a treadmill.”
And through the pandemic, Dr. Lock advised that one of the greatest challenges has been dealing with misinformation.
“As a society, we are so inundated with information from various sources. The social media platforms tend to reinforce our beliefs with more and more information along the same lines that we think.

“We do have to work in the context that people are diverse and we have a diversity of perspectives on what is the right way to go.”

“And so to sort out what is fact from fiction and how to get that across to people in plain language is one of the key challenges of our time right now.
“Because each of us makes our own decisions. We develop our beliefs, and in particular our health beliefs, based on a lot of the information we glean through our lives.
“One thing I would have appreciated more time on is to dig into that challenge of how public health can work with our media partners and other communication partners in effective ways to try and share information that is considered to be reliable and trustworthy.
“It is an ongoing battle. I began to see even more blatantly how important that was during COVID.
“We do have to work in the context that people are diverse and we have a diversity of perspectives on what is the right way to go.
“Part of the privilege of a democratic society is that people are allowed to have their own diverse opinions and that there is collective strength in allowing creative personal thought, but at the same time how do we balance that with interventions that are required when we’ve got such a huge crisis such as hospitals overwhelmed with patients and people dying prematurely from an avoidable illness.”
As for disseminating that information upon her retirement, Dr. Lock admits she will continue to follow the headlines.

“You tend to throw in extra time for those key priorities like family and those other interests, well someday I’ll do that. I’m amazed I’m on that threshold of someday.”

“One of the advantages of being in the role was that the information came to me. Through ministry communications, science table updates and on and on and on.
“I always had my pulse on what was going on. I will be a little more distant from it, but I certainly will be watching the news headlines like the average citizen to keep up with what is going on.”
For the time being, St. Thomas will remain the home base for Dr. Lock.
“I must say I really enjoy having the countryside close at hand. There is so much unappreciated culture and life in smaller communities in Oxford and Elgin.
“Great roads for cycling and beaches for the summer. There is a lot to do here and I really haven’t had the chance to explore as much as I would have liked in my years here and so now is the time I can get in the car with my hubby and drive around and take it in.
“I am looking forward to that.”
A chance to savour what Dr. Lock refers to as “someday.”
“Your working years are filled with your work-related hours and in healthcare, there is always lots of time required for continuing education.
“You tend to throw in extra time for those key priorities like family and those other interests, well someday I’ll do that.
“I’m amazed I’m on that threshold of someday.”


To follow up on last week’s item regarding the future of the former Wellington Street Public School, a St. Joseph’s Health Care spokesperson advises the discussions are still in the preliminary stages, however, the first and second floors of the historically-designated building could become the new home of the Elgin Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams.
STEAM CentrejpgThe teams presently operate out of a Talbot Street office in St. Thomas and there are 26 healthcare providers and support staff employed by St. Joseph’s Health Care.
At present, 265 clients from the city and Elgin county receive care through these outreach services with more than 8,000 visits annually.
There are a total of seven ACT teams across SW Ontario.
They provide specialized, intensive, community-based services to adults with severe, complex and persistent mental illness between the ages of 18 and 65.
The clinicians are trained to support clients in regaining a healthy, meaningful and fulfilling place in the community with teams comprised of psychiatrists, nurses, occupational therapists, social workers, vocational counsellors and addictions counsellors.
Services provided include medication management, activities of daily living support, crisis planning and intervention, health and wellness education, and employment and education support.
The aim is to achieve better control of symptoms, increase housing stability, enhance social and family supports and decrease time spent in hospital.
Most importantly, to promote independence and improve the quality of life.
No time frame has yet been established and there are no plans at this juncture to hire additional staff.
Still, it is a positive outlook for the structure that dates back to 1898. In 2012, it became a satellite campus for Algoma University and, for a time, was the home of the STEAM Centre.
This past winter it served as an isolation centre for several homeless individuals who contracted COVID.
In a bid to attract tenants, city council in June of 2020 approved institutional uses – such as a home for the ACT teams – for the city-owned building that, of late, has more often than not been sitting vacant.

Related posts:

Proposed Wellington Block revitalization: Over-the-top excitement or cause for concern?

In this case, one option does not fit all


Contingent upon council approval Monday, the city’s proof of vaccination policy is to be rescinded as of April 5.
The city’s policy was approved on Nov. 1 of last year and covered members of council, committee appointments, current city employees, volunteers, students and new hires.
It did not apply to employees and volunteers at Valleyview Home who were governed by internal policies.
Likewise, the St. Thomas Police Service had its own vaccination disclosure and safe workplace procedures.
All of this as COVID-19 indicators are trending upward once again.

Related post:

Proof of vaccination mandate for St. Thomas municipal employees to debut Nov. 2


In addition to the provincial election in June, there is also a municipal vote on Oct. 24.
Any individual seeking to run in the fall vote can submit their nomination form beginning May 2 and you have until 2 p.m. Aug. 19 to file.
As per a report to council from city clerk Maria Konefal for Monday’s (April 4) meeting, “Endorsement forms signed by 25 electors are required when submitting a nomination form for a councillor or
mayor position.
“An elector is a Canadian citizen, 18 years of age or older on voting day, who is a resident of the city, or an owner or tenant of land or the spouse of such owner or tenant of land in the city and is not otherwise prohibited from voting.”

“The letter will include instructions on how to vote, voter eligibility criteria, office and candidate information, and the location of mobile voter help centres for those individuals who do not have access to a telephone, computer, or tablet or who require assistance.”

The land ownership provision has, in recent years, come up to bite more than one candidate.
Information for voters includes the following, “An elector’s name must be on the voters’ list in order to vote. At this time, electors should confirm or update their electoral information, add an elector name to an address, and change school support through the following website: http://www.voterlookup.ca
“After September 1st until voting day, changes to voters’ list can be made at the clerk’s office.”
Remember, there will be no paper ballots in this municipal election so the following information is critical.
Simply Voting Inc.“Electors will be mailed a Voter Information Letter containing a PIN, web address and telephone number for internet/telephone voting.
“The letter will include instructions on how to vote, voter eligibility criteria, office and candidate information, and the location of mobile voter help centres for those individuals who do not have access to a telephone, computer, or tablet or who require assistance.”
Since it is an electronic vote, casting your ballot will take place 24/7 during the entire voting period from Oct. 11 at 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Oct. 24. A link to our discussion last year with the founder of the firm that will handle the electronic voting is included below.
For those with no means to vote in this fashion, tablet kiosks will be available at mobile voter help centres during specific times and locations in the city.
Further information about the locations will be available in September.
The newly elected council will hold its first meeting on Dec. 5.

Related posts:

Paper a thing of the past in the 2022 municipal vote

Internet voting: ‘It’s all about balancing risks and benefits’


In response to last week’s item on the three candidates – all of them acclaimed – who will vie to represent Elgin-Middlesex-London at Queen’s Park, Steve Ogden has these thoughts on the June provincial election.

“I strongly suspect all three were acclaimed because interest in politics is at an all-time low.
“Sustained pressure from the pandemic, coupled with a political system stacked against truly being represented in parliament, feels very much like we have no control over anything anymore. “That’s kicked up the apathy, which has typically been absurdly high anyway.
“Forty-two percent of us didn’t vote during the last election. It’ll be interesting to see what the turnout (or lack of it) will be this time around.”

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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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