Ottawa Public Health has led the pandemic well, but should remain vigilant, report says

A third-party report says Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has shown leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but future crises will require it to remain vigilant.

Dr. Paul Gully’s report examining the local health unit’s role during the pandemic looked favorably on its response to an ever-evolving emergency.

During his remarks, the public health consultant said the key was to recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic was different from any other that came before it.

“Ottawa Public Health was willing to look at the information coming forward – the surveillance: local, national, international – and then make the necessary changes in terms of the traditional public health response to that,” said Gully, a professor at the University. from British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health, at Monday’s meeting of the Ottawa Board of Health.

« And I said in my report that it was extremely important. »

Gully was Deputy Chief Public Health Officer at the Public Health Agency of Canada and Senior Medical Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Health Canada.

Its findings and 18 recommendations were received by the board on Monday.

‘Future course of COVID-19’ requires monitoring

The report found that public health policies were communicated effectively and that OPH was showing leadership and adapting to rapid and frequent provincial changes.

According to the report, future threats may require greater investment in surveillance and risk assessment as « the future course of the COVID-19 pandemic is unpredictable ».

« It is expected that the threshold for reintroducing public health orders, for example, requiring the use of masks and the reduction of business and social activities, will be high, » the report said.

“Therefore, it is recommended that there is regular and ongoing reporting of indicators of the level of community transmission which will promote awareness of COVID-19 and keep individuals, communities and decision-makers informed if there is a need to revise public health policies.

Dr. Paul Gully’s report examining the local health unit’s role during the pandemic looked favorably on its response to an ever-evolving emergency. (Youtube)

The report says greater investments in monitoring and risk assessment will also be needed to help prepare against other potential future threats, such as a protracted climate emergency.

“OPH must address the immediate crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, monkey pox, toxic drug poisonings and the health effects of climate change, while responding to other persistent health threats in the areas of infectious disease, chronic disease, mental illness and injury,” the report continues.

The report suggests SPO should manage its staff relationships to avoid burnout, an idea Dr Vera Etches agrees with.

She said sustainability should be revisited and the protracted response takes a heavy toll on staff.

« It’s important to have surge capacity, » she said by phone Monday night. « So continuing to have a lot of nurses who can vaccinate on call, I know that’s really important, probably, if we come across a vaccine-preventable disease, or at the same time, those who can help with the management of cases and outbreak management. »

Gully’s report also recommends that SPO continue to collect sociodemographic data and regularly monitor the wellbeing of the city.

The next meeting of the Ottawa Board of Health will be November 7th.


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