A few kilometres is making the difference between life and death and who gets the vaccine during COVID times.
“My patients are being neglected,” said Dr. Michelle Albert who is a family physician in Clarington and also the Medical Director of Hope Street Terrace Long Term Care along with two long-term care homes in Durham Region.
The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed at the Hope Street Terrace Long-Term Care facility in Port Hope on January 1, 2021. One unit which houses 20 residents is now dealing with 16 with COVID-19 (two are very ill), two have died, two are not infected – at this point.
Most of the staff that work in the unit have also developed COVID and are at home. The facility has brought in staff from other areas to deal with the outbreak.
But there is still no vaccine on the horizon says the doctor in charge of the facility.
“They are sitting ducks to get infected because there is an outbreak.”
She said Hope Street Terrace has done an amazing job keeping the outbreak to one unit.
“My concern is there are 60 other residents that are currently ok, but are living in a building where they share everything.”
Dr. Albert said she’s learned from a colleague that vaccinating others in the facility would make a difference.
“It definitely could save lives by getting that vaccine into the residents and staff.”
It’s been one week since issuing a plea to politicians and it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
“It’s frustrating to me because I live in Durham, there is a nursing home right across the street and nobody there has had a case, but they were all vaccinated last week.”
Dr. Albert also works at a nursing home in Oshawa where one person has had COVID, but they are going to be vaccinated within the next two weeks.
“Meanwhile I have these 60 residents who have not yet had an infection, who are extremely at risk of dying from an infection, who are in a long-term care congregate facility and who should be top priority.”
Dr. Albert was told that long-term care homes that would be given a priority but after a week – she’s heard nothing.
The two long-term care homes that Dr. Albert works at in Durham Region are in the “red zone” and that was given priority for the vaccine.
“It’s a 20-minute drive to Port Hope where my facility there is and it seems someone has drawn a line between Newcastle and Port Hope and suggested that the people on the east side of that line (Port Hope) don’t matter.”
Dr. Albert realizes, the government has to prioritize the vaccines, “but these people are in a home with a outbreak, they are extremely high risk and I think they totally should be looked after.”
“It’s very frustrating because as a physician I know there is something out there and I know that my patients across the street (in Bowmanville) have got it (the vaccine) and I can’t offer it to my patients and they are equivalent, wonderful people.”
“They shouldn’t be penalized just because they live 20-minutes down the road.”
With the first case of COVID being brought in by a staff member who resides in Durham Region, “so to say that you’re drawing that line – defies logic.”
Dr. Albert’s husband is also physician and delivers vaccines.
“We know everyday there are leftover vaccines at the end of a shift that need using.”
Once the vaccines are unfrozen they must be used in a time period or they are discarded.
“So we know there is a shortage, there is also, potential to wiggle around that shortage somehow.”
“We know it’s being done, it’s just not being done at this high-risk location because of where it is on a map.”
When the outbreak first happened at Hope Street Terrace in Port Hope one of Dr. Albert’s patients begged her for the vaccine.
“I told him we can’t and the next day he tested positive. I asked him how he was doing and he said, “Doctor, I’m preparing my will.”
Currently the resident is on oxygen and is very ill.
“It’s very scary for the people who have it, the ones who don’t have it and frankly for the staff.”
“The situation remains very, very flammable.”
Today’s Northumberland reached out for comment from MPP David Piccini but have not heard back yet.