/Cottager influx would strain health system doctors say 

Cottager influx would strain health system doctors say 

Cottager influx would strain health system, doctors say 


By Jenn Watt

a letter distributed through social media channels over the weekend,
the Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team reached out to seasonal
residents, asking them to think about the limited resources available in
the county before they decide to come to the area during the COVID-19
“We face some harsh realities recognizing that we have
limited capacity to manage a health emergency. A substantial influx of
visitors will further challenge our ability to source adequate beds,
medical supplies, equipment and personal protective equipment to manage
this pandemic,” reads the letter, which is signed by the physicians of
Haliburton County.
The Haliburton hospital has only 15 beds with a
small number of doctors available, the letter says, and while Minden has
an emergency department, it has no in-patient beds.
location is equipped as an ICU [intensive care unit] and each has two
transport ventilators that are used for transport to the closest ICU
over an hour away. We anticipate that our closest ICU will be strained
supporting the  population within its radius,” the letter says,
reminding the public that moving those with COVID-19 poses a greater
risk to health-care workers.
“We collectively have a lot of work to
do and look forward to when this threat is behind us and we can all rest
and truly enjoy our county again,” the letter says. “Until then we ask
that you recognize the limits of our local health-care system and
consider remaining at your primary residence where you will receive more
advanced care if you require it.”
Some mayors in cottage country
have been warning seasonal residents that the health-care system in the
region doesn’t have the capacity to handle an influx of patients. On
Friday, Premier Doug Ford echoed those concerns.
Haliburton County
Warden Liz Danielsen said the county has been encouraged by various
sectors to ask the seasonal population to avoid the area, “but initially
the county’s Emergency Control Group has been reluctant to tell folks
who own homes that they cannot come to them. We also did not have the
tools to enforce people to stay away. We have to consider that these
folks pay taxes on those properties and should reasonably be able to
have the same rights as permanent residents. They look to those homes as
safe havens and possibly better places to self isolate given our
reduced population and rural setting.”
She said information has gone out reminding cottagers that there is a limited ability to handle higher demand on services.
the last week I have sent out messaging (see county website) in the
form of news releases and public service announcements on Canoe FM,
telling cottagers that they should think about the fact that they could
be putting themselves and others at risk given our facilities and health
professionals’ limited ability to handle an influx of illnesses,” she
The county has also been urging people to practice physical
distancing and avoid areas where people are gathering, last week
reminding those who have returned from international travel that they
must self-isolate for 14 days.
A coronavirus assessment centre is
planned for the parking lot outside the Haliburton Family Medical
Centre, which is to open this week.
In a weekly update from
Haliburton Highlands Health Services for the week ending March 27 it is
stated that supplies of personal protective equipment are running low
and while they are sufficient to meet current demand, they are working
with regional partners to secure more. They are also hoping to find more
of this equipment from other sectors and members of the community.
Sunday evening, Dr. Theresa Tam reiterated that those in cities should
not travel to rural areas to wait out the pandemic. She tweeted: “Urban
dwellers/cottagers should RESIST THE URGE to head to the #cottage and
rural properties as these communities have less capacity to manage
#COVID19. A) You need to #PlankTheCurve in the city … B) “COVID19 time
is NOT #cottage time”; #StayHome in the city and DO NOT put rural
communities at further risk during the #COVID19 crisis.”