Elk Valley physicians have penned an open letter to the public regarding COVID-19. File Photo

Elk Valley physicians have penned an open letter to the public regarding COVID-19. File Photo

Elk Valley physicians pen letter to the public

The letter, submitted to The Free Press, is signed by over 30 physicians in the Elk Valley

Dear Editor,

The physicians of the Elk Valley want you all to know that we are working hard to ensure the safety and survival of our beloved Elk Valley community. We are now pleading with you to do all you can to slow the spread of COVID-19. If we never experience the terrible storm here in our Elk Valley like that we’ve seen on the news in other areas, then we’ll know we have done the best we can to keep our community safe. We do not want you to get ill. We do not want to admit you to hospital. We do not want to transfer you to an intensive care bed far from your home.

Many people are asking if COVID-19 has arrived in our community. There is confirmed community spread throughout the province, including the East Kootenay. The last thing we want is for people to feel unsafe coming forward with a respiratory illness that needs medical attention or investigation for COVID-19.

So, how do we all achieve a measured approach to a previously unknown virus to which nobody has immunity, to which there are no effective treatments, and no vaccine on the horizon? WE HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER. We are ALL responsible to slow the spread of this disease and keep each other safe. Look at your own behavior through the lens of our front line health care workers waiting for sick people to come through our hospital doors. What would they say about how you are following the guidance of our provincial health team and Dr. Bonnie Henry? Some messages might be unclear, but let us make it clear here.

STAY HOME. If you have returned from travel or are ill with fever/cough/sneezing but well enough to be in your own home, you need to isolate for 14 days and not go out, even for essentials. Someone can do shopping for you and drop off on the step. We are very fortunate to have a huge number of volunteers ready to help those that need it. Once it is beyond your 14 day isolation, continue to stay home as much as possible. Regardless of the size of group our government says can gather, good practice is to stay within your ‘bubble’ of people you cohabitate with. Don’t have dinner parties, or book club, or poker club, or other social gatherings. Play games, do puzzles, watch old movies, skip rope inside or on the deck. Get outside with low risk activities staying more than two metres away from others you don’t live with. Get your essential items in an organized way, as infrequently as possible, so that you are not continually exposing yourself to the grocery workers on the front line, and vice versa.

WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY AND FOR 20 SECONDS EACH TIME. Are your hands dry and chapped? If not, then you’re not washing them enough. Rub your hands generously with soap and warm water and count to 20, rinse and dry with a clean hand towel. Try not to share hand towels in your home and wash them often between uses.

AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE. If you do so, then wash your hands again. t is like we have all gone back to kindergarten and have to learn these things again. Be a role model and practice these things daily.

It is EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY to protect our families, our friends, our coworkers, our neighbours, our most susceptible seniors and those with underlying chronic illnesses. To put it bluntly, our local death rate will depend on your personal actions, regardless of what is being imposed on us. Let’s slow the spread of this illness together.

If you have a second home in the Elk Valley, consider picking one of your homes and stay there. It makes no sense to travel back and forth, putting yourself at risk on the highways or potentially bringing the virus between locations.

Keep your pets and family you live with close to you. They need your love. Keep your friends and other family close with social media, phone calls and hand written letters. This part is really tough for the grandparents and grandkids.

Check out your favourite local stores online or give them a call if you have questions about purchasing things during this pandemic. We need to SUPPORT OUR LOCAL BUSINESSES. Many of them are offering online purchasing options. We all hope that our community will one day be able to return to the social place like we have known. We can’t thank our local businesses and individuals enough for all the donations and help that has been provided or offered.

As a physician group, we have never felt so proud of, and so connected with, our team of health care providers and our community than at this time. We are working very hard with meetings, changing the way we look after patients when possible, learning new video/teleconference technology, practicing how to safely put on and take off protective gear when we have to look after someone with COVID-19. We go to work every day for you. Please stay home for us. As Dr. Bonnie Henry said, “be kind, be calm, and stay safe.”

We can do this together.

Elk Valley Physicians

Dr. Kimberley Allan

Dr. Rod Geddis

Dr. Jennifer Pond

Dr. Ashley Bakker

Dr. Derek Higgins

Dr. Jeff Rader

Dr. Kimberley Barden

Dr. Claire Hirst

Dr. Annick Rodrigue

Dr. Sheri Bentley

Dr. Randy Holmes

Dr. Susan Rohn

Dr. Patricia Burnett

Dr. Todd Loewen

Dr. Virginia Robinson

Dr. Deena Case

Dr. Marian Ma

Dr. Shayne Soetaert

Dr. Tara Chalmers-Nixon

Dr. David McBeath

Dr. Joel Stimson

Dr. Ron Clark

Dr. Paul Michal

Dr. Michael Stuckey

Dr. Shelley Forrest

Dr. Alastair Nicoll

Dr. Lisa Tessler

Dr. Lori Gadsden

Dr. Sarah Pearce

Dr. Rob Weitemeyer

Dr. Tara Pigott

Andrea Fieldhouse, NP


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