Dr. James Heilman

Now is the time to double down on collective efforts, Cranbrook doctor says

Even with Christmas upon us, we must not give in to complacency of pandemic fatigue

With B.C.’s extended COVID-19 restrictions announced on Monday, holiday gatherings and events won’t be possible this year. And as we approach the one year mark of living in a world with COVID-19, pandemic fatigue has set in for many people.

As the Canadian Press reported in early November, tightened restrictions due to rising case numbers are causing some Canadians to abandon the safety precautions they have been taking into consideration for months.

Dr. James Heilman, an Emergency Physician at East Kootenay Regional Hospital (EKRH), says now is the time to double down on our efforts.

“The vaccine is coming soon. Now is the time to double down on our collective efforts,” Heilman said in an email to the Townsman. “Even though only about one to three per cent of people die from this disease, many more are still sick despite months since being affected. We do not know what percentage of people will have permanent problems.”

According to the latest data from the BC Centre for Disease Control, there were 46 cases among East Kootenay residents between November 20th and December 3rd.

“This only includes East Kootenay residents,” Heilman explained. “[This data], for example, does not include people whose main residence is not here. While B.C. has not done horrible, we are also not doing great when it comes to managing this disease. Diseases that spread exponentially have a habit of sneaking up on a population.”

The rising case numbers are cause for concern among health officials and as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlined Monday, the reason for the extension on restrictions until the new year.

The holidays can be a hard time of year for many people, pandemic aside. According to an Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. press release issued Monday, COVID-19 protocols are expected to compound mental health and addiction emergencies during the holiday season.

READ MORE: Paramedics issue ‘triple threat’ warning for holidays

Interior Health recommends taking a look at the same practices they set forth at the beginning of the pandemic to help manage pandemic-related anxiety.

These practices include maintaining a routine, limiting your media intake, staying virtually connected with family and friends, getting fresh air and exercise, taking advantage of downtime, asking for help, and keeping perspective (focusing on doing your part to fight the spread).

READ MORE: Taking care of your mental health during COVID-19

Heilman says that the health care system can only do so much to specifically protect the elderly population and that the lasting effects of the disease are still unknown. Consider that as another reason to stay motivated to slow the spread.

“This disease causes a great deal of sickness and death, especially in older folks. We know that this disease is spread by close contact, especially when this occurs indoors. Our heath system is already under stress from COVID-19, yet patients with strokes and MI still need care,” he said.

Heilman adds that he will not be travelling over the holidays or having friends or family over to visit.

“I’m not willing to put my parent’s lives at risk,” he said.

People have recently taken to social media and to the streets to protest the provincial mask mandate and the restrictions set in place.

Two anti-mask rallies have been held in Cranbrook recently, and Facebook comments show that some people still plan on having gatherings over the holidays.

B.C. residents are subject to a $200 fine if they are actively encouraging other people to attend a gathering or event.

Heilman says things could get a lot worse than they currently are. For example, last week it was reported that Alberta has reached out to the federal government and Canadian Red Cross for help in setting up field hospitals due to their hospital capacity being overwhelmed.

“If we look at other areas of Canada or the world we can see the benefits of social distancing, masks and travel restrictions in places like Australia, Taiwan, eastern Canada and New Zealand,” Heilman said. “We can also see the harms of not taking COVID seriously enough such as Alberta, the UK and the United States. Alberta’s ICU’s are full, their hospitals are running out of oxygen [and] they are trying to set up field hospitals. While the vaccine is coming soon, it’s unlikely to be widely available for some time.”

So, in the meantime, it’s important that everyone continue to do their part and work together. When asked if further closures and restrictions may be coming, specifically with regards to schools, Heilman said they may be required if case numbers continue to rise.

“With respect to further closures of schools it depends on the actions of individuals, governments, and administration,” said Heilman. “Based on current policies and behaviours I fear further school and business closures may be required. Closing school should be the last thing we do, however. There are many actions we can currently take, such as requiring masks in schools and improving ventilation, that will decrease the risk of closures.”

Lastly, Heilman says that if you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, 811 is there to support you during the process of testing. Hospitals are there to assist anyone with health issues and masks are required in all medical facilities. Masks are provided upon arrival to the EKRH.

“If you have other health issues, such as chest pain or abdominal pain, it is safe to go to emergency departments across B.C.,” he said. “Please wear a mask.”



corey.bullock@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

Daryl Jolly, his wife Kerry Pagdin, their sons Cole Jolly (left) and Graeme Jolly, and their dogs Gracie and Clover. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College arts chair diagnosed with lung cancer, family launches fund drive

Daryl Jolly co-founded the college’s digital arts program

TELUS is proposing to construct a 5G tower at Pople Park. Photo: Sheri Regnier
First 5G tower in Trail proposed for placement in popular park

TELUS has a consultation process open until June 28

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Central Mountain Air leaving Castlegar airport in July

The airline says market can’t handle two airlines

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

The cannabis dispensary store, located at 1024 Clark Drive in East Vancouver. (Instagram/Budwayonclark)
Vancouver pot shop owner ordered to pay $40K for copying Subway

Store’s mascot is a red-eyed, cannabis-filled smoking sandwich

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

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

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Most Read