Dispatch

April 7: “We are failing to protect our most vulnerable”

People ask me what it’s like working on the hospital wards right now. In one word – exhausting. You have to scramble for the time and attention required to actually see and treat patients.

I had high hopes for our vaccine access system given the stakes. But I spent an hour of my day trying to get a non-English speaking, elderly, high-risk woman a vaccine or a vaccine appointment before she was discharged. Should be easy, right? Wrong. Vaccines for inpatients are at the pilot stage and she was being discharged before they were available. I called her seniors home but she had missed getting her dose there while she was admitted. I then went through, website by website, each of the locations that were a 5-, 10-, 20- and 30-minute drive from her home and no appointments were available. Is this Ticketmaster-like system where you have to constantly refresh 15 browsers for an appointment really the best we can do? In the end, I could not get her booked but she was still grateful for the time I took trying to get this done.

But I am angry. I am distressed at how we are failing to protect our most vulnerable when we have the means to easily and safely do so.

We are opening an ICU in the GTA for patients under 40 with COVID. But there is still no clear path to vaccinate them.

There are lockdowns, emergency brakes and stay-at-home orders – but without protections (financial or vaccine) for essential workers and teachers. How does this make sense?

My day job during this rotation ends at 6 p.m. After quick catchup time with the family, I move to my evening/night job – advocating for the public health policies needed to get us out of this mess. I can’t sit idly by; I can see what’s coming; we need to act now to stop it from happening.

3 Comments
  • rickk says:

    That’s Toronto – be glad you’re not in Niagara where refreshing your screen gets you NOTHING – zero appointments. However, you’ll get plenty of rhetoric from the chief of Public Health Niagara that it’s everyone’s fault but his own. Part of the raison d’etre of our Public Health departments is vaccinating people (ie. flu shots, TB, etc). So why are their freezers full and most of the seniors living on their own are still unjabbed? And don’t get me started on Ontario teachers as vulnerable population – there’s another political boondoggle in the making. BTW what exactly has changed in Ontario LTC’s now that we know the burden of deaths came from those homes? Answer: NOTHING, other than some pompous Mount Sinai Hospital physician advocating for lumping them in with hospitals – don’t fix – obfuscate….ya that will fix all – – – – ponderous, man ponderous

  • Mary Jo Dodds says:

    Thank you Seema for your exhausting and tireless work on the front line. And thank you for advocating for this woman and others who need help because they are high risk. Definitely its a systemic problem that doctors cannot access or order the vaccine for patients who may desperately need it.

  • Randy Filinski says:

    The pandemic has exposed every issue within the system and COVID vaccine booking is just one key example.
    My question as an advocate is “will we actually change our workflows and patient interactions or will we have Expert Panels write reports with thousands of recommendations and sit on the shelf again.”

    The OHT design is excellent, and there are brilliant examples of success already but we continue with low rules across the Province…a huge miss-step for health equity and a digital platform for all…and for those that do not have access or skill, we can stay with in person relationships in their communities

    At least with Ticketmaster, I know I will get my tickets if I stay connected…

Author

Seema Marwaha

Editor-in-chief

Seema Marwaha is a general internal medicine physician, educator, researcher and journalist.

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