A physician at the Campbell River hospital is frustrated with how health authorities are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy NIAID-RML via AP

A physician at the Campbell River hospital is frustrated with how health authorities are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy NIAID-RML via AP

Island doctor says health authority dropping the ball on COVID-19

A physician at the Campbell River Hospital says the public isn’t being given the information it needs in regards to COVID-19 and is questioning the Ministry of Health and Island Health’s handling of the situation, in general.

The doctor, to whom the Mirror has agreed to grant anonymity, says the amount of information the public is being given is not only seriously lacking, it’s also often inaccurate, which is going to create serious problems.

“They have the information, they’re just not sharing it, for God knows what reason,” the doctor says. “One of the reasons they’re citing is patient confidentiality – which to be honest is complete bullshit, because you can release information without it having any patient data points. To say an adult has tested positive and is isolating at home reveals nothing about the patient, but it at least gives the community a sense of awareness.”

And it’s not just the public who isn’t getting the information they need, according to the doctor.

“Even to those of us who should be on the forefront of knowledge, they’re not releasing information, and we’ve been instructed not to release information, even to each other, even if we have positive swabs on our own patients.”

The doctor says there was a conference-call-style meeting held recently that invited local physicians to ask questions about the situation, “and everyone was saying they need to know what’s going on so we can instruct our patients, because they’re coming to us for guidance, and that was shut down repeatedly from the top leadership in our geographic area, but it seemed like they were frustrated that they couldn’t release that information either and were getting instructions from higher up.

“We, as physicians on the very front line of this thing, need to know what’s in our community to be able to properly assess a respiratory patient coming in, for example, and what their risk is of having this. Is there an outbreak locally? Do we need to isolate other patients from this person who is presenting with a cough? We don’t have that information, so we just have to assume everyone who comes in might have this.”

The other reason officials are citing as a reason not to give out information, according to the doctor, “is that they don’t want to cause mass hysteria within the community, or panic, but misinformation is absolutely going to be worse. The countries who have been able to flatten their curve the best are the ones who have been giving out the most information.

“Saying that there are 12 cases on the Island is really not helpful.”

RELATED: Stopping the spread of COVID-19

And the information that is being released, the doctor says, is well behind what’s happening on the ground.

“We knew there was a positive case in Campbell River last Thursday, because someone in our group personally had a positive swab come back,” the doctor says. “We were told that information was going to come out, and it never did. They kept reporting through Public Health and the Vancouver Island Health Authority that there were no cases on the Island, which we knew was a lie.

“We were so upset that the community was going about its business under the outright lie that there were no cases. The trust in the system is being eroded, and that’s not okay.

“I would say that because of the delay in reporting, contact tracing and testing, what the public knows and what doctors know – other than one or two select individuals – is probably two weeks behind what’s actually happening on the ground.”

And that’s bad.

“You’re infectious before symptoms come up,” the doctor says. “So by the time you know you have to isolate, you’ve already infected people, who then will infect people before they become symptomatic, and it’s just a rollercoaster that goes on and on and on, because we’re not being proactive about it. Not having information and not having people be aware as possible is only going to be dangerous and end up overwhelming our health care system, which is already overwhelmed.”

The doctor does think they’re doing the best they can with the equipment and information they have available to them, but worries that very soon their best might not be good enough.

“I think we’re doing a pretty good job responding, as a community – and we’re a tight cohesive group at the hospital – but knowing that this has been coming for months, we’re not anywhere near as ready as we should be.

“It’s incredibly frustrating to be doing my job to the best of my ability and watching Public Health not do theirs to the best of their ability,” the doctor says. “On a moral level, it’s incredibly frustrating to have to watch the media, like yourself, have to try and pick up the pieces.”

The Mirror reached out to Island Health for comment, and received the following:

“The Provincial Health Officer and Minister of Health are providing daily updates on COVID-19 and this is the source of truth for accurate information regarding confirmed cases across B.C., including within Island Health.

“It is absolutely imperative that every person in every community on Vancouver Island follow the directions of the Provincial Health Officer. Follow proper hand hygiene, cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue, avoid others who are unwell, and stay home when you are sick. To prevent transmission, it’s time to step up social distancing, meaning it’s time to increase the distance between people, avoid gatherings where you might have close contact with others and stay away from others if ill.”

In regards to the doctor’s assertion that the delay in reporting cases is causing harm to the public, Island Health pointed to provincial health officer Bonnie Henry’s March 17 press conference, where she pointed to a “backlog of cases that we are managing,” adding, “they will be reconciled, I hope, by the end of this week and we should have more stable numbers after that, particularly with our new testing strategy.”

RELATED: Island doctor says health authority dropping the ball on COVID-19



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni received some good news about an expansion to its emergency department on Jan. 15, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
B.C. health ministry commits $6.25M to hospital expansion in Port Alberni

Plans for larger emergency department have been on hold since 2015

The site of the former Arrowview Hotel, on Second Avenue and Athol Street, as of Jan. 14, 2020. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni pressures Arrowview Hotel owner for final cleanup

Demolition finished in June 2020 but site still full of construction material

A Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation guardian took this photo of dozens of vehicles parked along a forest service road in the Kennedy watershed. (Submitted photo)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District looks at enforcement of illegal camping

ACRD currently does not have an existing bylaw service to tackle the issue

Randy Brown, owner of Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue, has five trailers and a motorhome at the back of his property that he is renting to people who had been previously homeless. He wants to put 15 trailers on his property, hooked up to city sewer and water and BC Hydro. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Building owner digs in heels, refuses to remove illegal trailers from property

Port Alberni council gives owner two-week reprieve on remediation orders

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker in Nanaimo fails at fraud attempt, slams door on business owner’s foot

VIDEO: Suspect causes pain and damage in incident downtown Friday morning

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Most Read