Dear Colleagues: Welcome to our Wednesday, June 3 report – now in the fifth month of COVID-19 in Ontario. Visit the COVID-19 Portal for the many resources RNAO offers on COVID-19 You can refer to earlier update reports here, including thematic pieces in my blog. Feel free to share this report or these links with anyone interested – they are public.
Colleagues, I can’t let go of the image of George Floyd gasping for air and pleading for his life – “I can’t breathe.” That image evokes the immense brutality, insanity and terror brought about by anti-Black racism and all forms of racism that have existed forever in the United States, Canada and elsewhere. I know that you, like me, are outraged with this cold and brutal murder. But we also know that this is only one incident, standing as a symbol of a long history of oppression, discrimination and injustice against Black people in the US. However, let’s not appease ourselves with the thought this only happens south of the border. Canada also has a long history of deep-rooted racism, exclusion and even genocide – against Blacks, racialized communities, not to speak about Indigenous peoples. We need to stand together and say, in one voice: No more! #ICantBreathe #BlackLivesMatter
RNAO’s 95th AGM goes virtual - June 11-13, 2020
We very much look forward to seeing you all very soon at our virtual Annual General Meeting taking place from June 11-13, 2020. We are excited to engage with you in this new format in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and the physical distancing requirements across Ontario. Let’s continue to celebrate the Year of the Nurse and the formidable work of registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in such unprecedented times.
On June 11, Thursday’s Opening Ceremonies from 6:00pm to 7:00pm we will feature remarks from Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and other political party leaders and celebrate our LTC BPSOs designation ceremony for 2020. On June 12, Friday, from 4:00pm to 7:00pm, we’ll hear from Premier Doug Ford, and we will conduct our usual business including the Association’s auditor, provincial committees, followed by my yearly report that will undoubtedly showcase RNAO in action during these unprecedented times. As always, we will enjoy the consultation session on resolutions, media and member recognition awards, our president’s remarks and the passing of the gavel from President Angela Cooper Braithwaite to incoming President Morgan Hoffarth.
All this is followed by an important closing keynote panel on Saturday from 11:30am to 1:00pm titled: Celebrating the Year of the Nurse: Scaling Up Our Voices, featuring international nursing leaders Barbara Stilwell, Executive Director of Nursing Now Global and Mary K. Wakefield, former Administrator, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President Obama. This session will focus on the history of nursing and set the foundation for the next generation of nurses. Submit your questions by June 5, 2020:
Looking forward to spending energetic and meaningful three days virtually together!
One member, one vote: Make your voice heard – Voting is already open and closes on June 11 at noon (ET)
RNAO members play a central role in deciding governance issues that affect the current and future direction of RNAO. One member, one vote is how you can make your voice heard. Information on items that require a vote by all members is now available here:
This year, members are asked to cast their vote on three items:
By Mike Schreiner, Doris Grinspun, Raechelle Devereaux and Adrianna Tetley
Toronto Star, Friday, May 29, 2020
Earlier this month, we met online for Nurses Week to talk about Ontario’s overdose crisis, which is worsening under the weight of COVID-19.
Overdose deaths are on the rise, with Toronto reporting 25 deaths in April, the highest number in over a year, and the pandemic has deepened existing inequities.
People dependent on substance use are more likely to have underlying conditions that put them at greater risk if they contract COVID-19. They might also be sleeping in a crowded shelter or relying on under-resourced food banks.
On top of it all, given COVID-19, when they visit an overdose prevention site, the experience is radically different than it was a few months ago.
For example, COVID-19 has imposed new barriers such as long waiting lines outside, additional screening processes, and outreach workers who have swapped their street clothes for face shields.
These measures, while necessary, are counter to a harm reduction approach that is based on a low barrier to entry — a safe space where there is no judgment and where workers build trust by meeting people where they are in life and empowering them on their recovery journey.
The risk of spreading the virus has also meant that many wraparound services like meal programs and peer support groups have had to be paused.
This all amounts to a deterrent to some people accessing harm reduction services that have kept them alive.
To make matters even worse, we’re hearing stories of more people falling victim to toxic fentanyl because their usual supplies are not available.
While isolation is saving lives from COVID-19, it can claim lives for people living with a substance use disorder.
That’s why nurses with the Guelph Community Health Centre are visiting motels and apartment buildings to check in with people, distribute naloxone kits, and offer harm reduction training.
That’s why they are distributing phones as a lifeline for people who have become even more isolated than before.
Indeed, workers are rapidly adopting new outreach strategies in the name of health equity, and we must back up their efforts with better harm reduction policies.
One common sense change is to follow British Columbia’s example and expand access to safer drug supplies under Ontario’s Drug Benefit program.
This would allow clinicians to prescribe untainted alternatives to the deadly fentanyl acquired on the street, building on pilot projects and unfunded programs already taking place.
This discussion was happening before the pandemic, and now we have even more reason to make this intervention available to people who are alone and suffering.
As we mobilize all the health care resources we can to combat COVID-19, we cannot take our eyes off the overdose crisis.
The improved health and fiscal savings, which have been demonstrated through wraparound safer drug supply programs, cannot be ignored.
Like so much else, we need to adapt to save lives.
Mike Schreiner, Leader, Green Party of Ontario; Doris Grinspun, CEO, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario; Raechelle Devereaux, Executive Director, Guelph Community Health Centre; Adrianna Tetley, CEO, Alliance for Healthier Communities.
Your messages: Voices and responses
Each day we receive numerous messages. Each day we also welcome new readers to this daily report: Thank you deeply for the work you do always and especially during this public health crisis, and also for keeping us well informed. You can see previous reports here. Feel free to share these updates with other health professionals and other organizations both at home and abroad. RNAO media hits and releases on the pandemic can be found here. Daily Situational Reports from Ontario's MOH EOC can be found here. Many of the articles you see here are posted in my blog, where you can catch up with earlier issues. The COVID-19 Portal is here.
Disability support program: “Thank you for the amazing initiative on homelessness. The government has determined that individuals require $2,000 a month to survive without a job, but an individual receiving Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) receives $1,100 per month. This vulnerable group might be included in your initiative.” Nicolette Parant, RN, RNAO member since 1984. ~~~Thanks for making us aware, Nicolette.
Hand sanitizer in TTC stations: “I am a RN working in geriatrics. I am really confused why there aren't hand sanitizers in TTC stations here in Toronto, which has 50% plus of the cases. I reviewed WHO recommendations and it calls for hand sanitizers in prominent places as an optimal intervention. Thanks, Erin Murphy.” ~~~Thanks, Erin. We will take this issue on and let’s also encourage our readers to advocate for this initiative with city and TTC authorities.
Together we can do it
MOH EOC Situational Report #129 here for Tuesday, June 2
EOC report #126 for May 30 informs of the following actions taken:
EOC report #128 for June 1 informs of the following actions taken:
EOC report #129 for June 2 informs of the following actions taken:
Staying in touch
Please continue to keep in touch and share questions and/or challenges of any kind, and especially shortages of PPE. Send these to me at email@example.com. We are responding daily and are continuously solving your challenges. RNAO’s Board of Directors and our entire staff want you to know: WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!
Thank you deeply colleagues in the front lines; in administrative roles; in all labour, professionals and sector associations, and in governments in Ontario, in Canada and around the world. We are here with you in solidarity. These are stressful and exhausting times; the only silver lining is coming together and working as one people – for the good of all!
Together, we must redouble our efforts to tackle COVID-19 with the best tools at hand: full, accurate and transparent information, calmness, determination and swift actions.
Doris Grinspun, RN,MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), Dr(hc), FAAN, O.ONT
RECENT RNAO POLICY CORNER ITEMS:
29 May - Update on pandemic pay; pandemic pay in consumption and treatment sites – go here
28 May - RNAO Calls for Immediate Action in Response to the Canadian Armed Forces’ LTC report – go here
26 May - Update on VIANurse – go here
26 May - Ending homelessness: Will you join us to build a COVID-19 recovery for all? – go here
24 May - Technology as a solution: Opportunities and pitfalls of COVID contact-tracing apps – go here
21 May - Debunking PPE myths with Dr. Jeff Powis: Which masks should health care workers wear during COVID-19? – go here
20 May - RNAO response to announcement of an independent commission into Ontario's long-term care system – go here
19 May - With the pandemic curve flattening, VIANurse program will focus its effort on outbreaks – go here
14 May - Nursing Week update – go here
14 May - Pandemic puts health system to the test: Nurses have answers for shortfalls – go here
14 May - Disappointment for not being included in pandemic pay – go here
13 May - RNAO saddened by the loss RN Brian Beattie to COVID-19 – go here
13 May - End racism and prejudice – go here
11 May - Nurses share their successes and challenges during National Nursing Week – go here
10 May - A story of hope, ingenuity, support and genuine care for an LTC resident – go here
7 May - Counting the missing deaths: Tracking the toll of the coronavirus outbreak – go here
5 May - Life on the front lines of the pandemic: Profile of RNAO member NP Daria Gefrerer – go here
5 May - Addressing differential access to virtual care due to technology inequities – go here
3 May - Being person-and-family-centred during COVID-19 – go here
1 May - Migrant agricultural workers and the COVID-19 crisis – go here
30 April - COVID-19 pandemic in provincial institutions and correctional centres – go here
28 April - Supporting First Nation Communities during COVID-19 – go here
27 April - Responses to COVID-19 for persons experiencing homelessness in Toronto: An update – go here
25 April - Lessons learned through a COVID-19 nursing home outbreak – go here
25 April - Letter from a retired RN to Premier Ford: The problems with LTC were evident long before COVID – go here
23 April - Working with seniors in long-term care requires specialized knowledge – go here
22 April - Shaking the stigma: We need a proactive COVID-19 response for mental health and addiction – go here
21 April - We Require Expanded and Accessible COVID-19 Data in Ontario – go here
20 April - Can Loss of Smell and Taste Help Screen for COVID-19? – go here
18 April - COVID, Trump and the World Health Organization – go here
16 April - A Home Based Model To Confront COVID-19 – The Case Of The Balearic Islands – go here
15 April - COVID-19 and the Challenges in Homecare – go here.
14 April - Reprocessing Of N95 – An Update – go here.
14 April - A New COVID-19 Facility For Persons Experiencing Homelessness In Toronto – go here.
13 April - Practical Tips for Safe Use of Masks – go here.
10 April - Ontario’s Tragedy in Long Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes – go here.
10 April - RNAO Action – Supporting Long-Term Care – go here.
10 April - Update For Nursing Students – NCLEX Exam – go here.
9 April - Celebrating Passover, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and the start of Ramadan during a pandemic – go here.
9 April - Guidance on use of N95 mask – go here.
7 April - Sentinel surveillance and on-site testing in the homeless service sector – go here.
7 April - Reprocessing of n95 – safe? – go here.
5 April - We must change the way we do testing and case definition – go here.
5 April - Ringing the alarm bells on critical care beds – go here.
4 April - COVID-19, stay at home and domestic violence – go here.
We have posted earlier ones in my blog here. Please go and take a look.
Ontario’s public website on the COVID-19 is there to inform the general public – encourage your family and friends to access this public website. The WHO has provided an excellent link for you to share with members of the public here.
Please promote the use of Ontario’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool: It also has a guide where to seek care, if necessary. Its use will provide the province with real-time data on the number and geography of users who are told to seek care, self-isolate or to monitor for symptoms. Data will inform Ontario's ongoing response to keep individuals and families safe.
Health Canada's website provides the best information capturing all of Canada. It contains an outbreak update, Canada's response to the virus, travel advice, symptoms and treatment, and resources for health professionals.
You can find up-to-date global numbers in Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE.
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