‘We’ve been able to bend the curve, but we’re not out of the woods yet’


city_scope_logo-cmykThey are not included in the daily tally issued by health units across the province – including Southwestern Public Health in this area – and yet these individuals have been victimized and their lives put on hold by the coronavirus.
And last week’s release of the framework to be adhered to by hospitals is a welcome ray of hope for those whose elective surgeries and procedures also fell victim to COVID-19.
Although it may still be several weeks before ramping up the numbers, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital president and CEO Robert Biron says the preparatory work is underway.
Speaking with him yesterday (Friday), Biron advised the immediate task is to work with other hospitals in the region to create a joint plan so that all hospitals are working “in a lockstep approach.”
He adds, “There is a lot of complexity involved in that because there is a pandemic we have to account for.

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MPP Yurek named to team tasked with ‘developing a roadmap to a stronger, more prosperous economy’


city_scope_logo-cmykPleasant surprises have been in short supply the past two months in a world locked in the grip of a coronavirus that introduced us to social distancing, self-isolation, face masks, makeshift home offices and the vulnerability of those housed in long-term care facilities who often died alone with loved ones unable to say goodbye.
So, Friday’s announcement by the Ford government that, beginning Monday, the door to recovery is going to open just a crack is welcoming news
There is a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel.
The day before, there was a prelude to the shape of things to come with the introduction of the province’s Jobs and Recovery Committee which, according to the media release, “will focus on getting businesses up and running and people back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.”

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The funding is not a concern, the worry is the financial accountability on the part of city hall


city_scope_logo-cmykWell, wasn’t that quite the diatribe this week from Vishal Chityal and his counter ego Charlie Duke over at SupportiveLiving.ca. The lengthy Facebook posting was in response to last week’s item on COVID-19 precautions that may be in place at Walnut Manor, a home operated by SupportiveLiving.ca.
There hasn’t been pushback like that from Vishal/Charlie in the six years we’ve documented conditions at Walnut Manor, beginning with the closure of the kitchen by the health unit in 2014.
So, why is that?
And, the detailed itemization of the many protocols now in place at the facility including increased sanitization, temperature monitoring and PPE for frontline staff.

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A response to our “shocking statement” last week regarding Walnut Manor


The following is a response to last week’s item on Walnut Manor. It was submitted by the owners of the facility, SupportiveLiving.ca. We have included the submission in its entirety.

As background to the six years spent documenting the plight of the individuals warehoused at this facility, the following is a link to MPP Jeff Burch’s private member’s bill to protect vulnerable Ontarians. The home in question in this backgrounder is Walnut Manor, right here in St. Thomas.  https://www.ontariondp.ca/news/ndp-mpp-jeff-burch-tables-legislation-protect-vulnerable-ontarians-supportive-living-homes

On Dec. 28 of last year, City Scope posted the following item detailing part of the back story to MPP Burch’s bill. “An Award-Winning Team? What an Insult to Walnut Manor residents” can be found here. https://ianscityscope.com/2019/12/28/an-award-winning-team-what-an-insult-to-walnut-manor-residents/

In a shocking statement by Ian McCallum posted to his blog with regards to Walnut Manor, he has once again raised questions as to the operations of SupportiveLiving.ca in St. Thomas.

Ian McCallum chooses to attack SupportiveLiving on a constant basis to serve his own political agenda. For many months, well before COVID-19 was even a current topic, SupportiveLiving.ca was monitoring the situation closely.

Through this pandemic, SupportiveLiving.ca has been weeks ahead of public health guidelines in the fight against COVID-19, protecting our residents and frontline workers alike.

As of today, we are proud to say that our homes and residents are safe and well protected, which is a huge accomplishment, considering the number of residents we serve. Management and frontline workers are monitoring this situation on a minute-by-minute basis during these trying times and adjusting our policies and procedures accordingly.

SupportiveLiving.ca will continue to be a front runner in the fight against COVID-19 and will do everything in its ability to keep residents and frontline workers safe.

Under the guidance of our CEO, Vishal Chityal, who has tirelessly championed the rights of the homeless, the vulnerable and the weak, we will get through this pandemic and set a shining example of how homes for the vulnerable should be operated in Ontario.

Previous blogs written by Ian McCallum have perpetually reported false information on how SupportiveLiving manages Walnut Manor and its residents – today’s post is no exception.

For weeks, we have worked hand in hand with our communities, public health departments and stakeholders at large to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our frontline staff, external healthcare workers and most importantly, our residents.

We began enforcing strict policies within our homes since March 2, 2020 which include the following:

1. No visitor policy, including contactless delivery of supply chain essentials, weeks before anyone else in the industry

2. Mandatory screening of essential medical/psychiatric service workers to the residents of our homes, five weeks prior to the advice given by public bodies

3. 24-hour telephone support for our residents from doctors, family members and supports

4. We have halted new admissions as of March 26 to protect our front line staff and residents

5. Increased sanitization practices in commonly used areas within our homes – in addition to our already stringent policies on cleanliness within our operations

6. Temperature monitoring of our residents and an immediate 14 day isolation/quarantine of anyone exhibiting fever, cough, or other known COVID-19 symptoms

7. PPE available to all of our frontline staff. Gowns, masks, gloves and face shields have been in place in all SupportiveLiving homes and are available to staff, well before recommendations from public health officials. This PPE have been provided personally by our CEO Vishal Chityal and is not publicly-funded

8. Increased activities, supports and individualized mental health support has been made available to our residents on a 24-hour-a-day basis, all personally provided by our CEO due to the lack of public funding

The strict guidance that has been provided to us by our CEO has kept Walnut Manor as well as all of our homes across Ontario safe and infection-free thus far.

Our website and social media channels have consistently communicated the policies and measures that we have put into place, even before the crisis began in Ontario.

Pre-pandemic, SupportiveLiving.ca sounded the alarm in St. Thomas, Ontario and is on record with public health officials questioning the practices of other care homes and businesses with the intent of keeping Walnut Manor’s frontline workers and residents safe. SupportiveLiving.ca had taken swift action with regard to community spread weeks before official guidance in order to protect our frontline workers and residents.

Our mandate is to ensure the health and safety of our residents – pre-pandemic and now.

If Ian McCallum questions, “Is anybody monitoring,” the answer is a resounding YES. The real question to be asked here is what is his political agenda and why has he been spreading false rumours about our operations at Walnut Manor for years?

As a community, we need to be asking Ian McCallum what he is doing for the city of St. Thomas when it comes to our vulnerable population. His constant attacks in a time when communities are coming together now need to be questioned.

The community in St. Thomas is an intelligent community and will no longer accept the tabloid falsehoods that he spreads.
Future articles exposing these falsehoods and why Iancityscope.com continues to perpetuate his slander about SupportiveLiving.ca will be released shortly.

We wish all citizens of St. Thomas the best during this crisis and give special recognition to all the Frontline Workers in healthcare, retail, logistics, as well as all other industries that are keeping our city running.

Stay safe and stay well,
The Management and Frontline Workers of SupportiveLiving.ca

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Yes, St. Thomas Transit buses are being cleaned and sanitized. But, in a COVID-19 world, when did this begin?


city_scope_logo-cmykWith cramped quarters and no exit doors near the rear of the buses to keep passengers distant from drivers, is it safe to ride St. Thomas Transit in these far-from-normal times?
Well, it appears this week much attention is being paid to the safety of passengers and drivers. But what about the situation over the last month when the transit system was operating a regular service while others in the province had shut down or substantially reduced hours.
And, larger operators with full-sized transit buses could take the front door out of service and have passengers enter and exit the vehicles through the rear door, well away from drivers.
With the city’s fleet of what can only be described as glorified airport parking shuttle buses, the above is not an option.

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Could the former St. Thomas psychiatric hospital go from movie set to front-line player in the COVID-19 pandemic?


city_scope_logo-cmykLet’s pray it never reaches this stage – and to date, there is no indication St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital is about to be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients – however, the president of OPSEU is urging the province “to look for creative ways to combat the spread of the coronavirus.”
Warren ‘Smokey’ Thomas is urging the Doug Ford government to consider opening portions of previously shuttered regional mental health centres including the facility south of St. Thomas and the Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls to ease a potential capacity crisis in the healthcare system.
In a media release issued last month, Thomas noted, “They can be used for currently hospitalized alternative care patients or as dedicated COVID-19 centres to relieve pressure on our hospitals. Let’s be proactive. Now is the time for action.”

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COVID-19: St. Thomas EDC is there with support for businesses, albeit it’s more emotional in nature right now


city_scope_logo-cmykSean Dyke, CEO at St. Thomas Economic Development Corp., admits he is feeling a little handcuffed right now.
We all know the feeling as we settle in for the long haul in the battle of wits against the coronavirus.
We talked with him earlier in the week and in the intervening days, it seems the COVID-19 playbook has been completely amended.
We started the conversation on a positive note in that construction is continuing on the Element 5 plant in the Dennis Drive industrial Park.
It was announced last July the Toronto-based firm was to set up shop in St. Thomas to produce solid wood panels made with multiple layers of lumber planks cross-laminated with environmentally friendly adhesives.
It will be a $32 million, 125,000 sq. ft. facility with production expected to begin late this year.

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I have a cough, why am I not being tested for COVID-19?


city_scope_logo-cmykAs is bandied about across all social media venues, does every individual have the right to demand a COVID-19 test?
This week we presented that train of thought to Dr. Joyce Lock, medical officer of health at Southwestern Public Health for her observations.
Is an individual with a cough immediately tested for the virus?
Not normally.
Dr. Lock advises, in simple terms, a test is administered when it is clinically indicated.
In other words, the test results will better help the doctor to decide what is the best route of care for that patient.
So, in the case of an individual exhibiting mild symptoms, what would be prescribed?

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How’s that social distancing working out for ya?


city_scope_logo-cmykHave to admit, we haven’t experienced a week like this since, what, the 2008 financial meltdown? Wall-to-wall coronavirus coverage with the city unveiling its balanced approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and city manager Wendell Graves suggesting the management team likely would not have to declare an emergency.
A day later and the Doug Ford government did exactly that.
City hall closed, municipal facilities all shuttered. Students on furlough for at least a couple of weeks.
Ditto for many of their parents.
Have you ever seen traffic on Talbot Street downtown so sporadic?
Do you think life will return to normal on April 6?
Do you think COVID-19 gives a tinker’s damn about a calendar date?

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