Jewish General Hospital staff doing a spectacular, awesome job says Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg

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March 27, 2019 – CIUSSS West-Central President and CEO gives CTV News Montreal the latest update on COVID-19 patients and preparedness at the Jewish General Hospital.

Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg

Special COVID-19 Coverage on the Your Health Podcast

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How would you like to keep up to date on the most important COVID-19 news affecting CIUSSS West-Central Montreal… just 5 minutes at a time? 


Well, now you can.


At the office, at home, in the car or in the palm of your hand, our top experts in the field sound off from the front lines of the biggest pandemic of a generation on new special COVID-19 coverage of the Your Health Podcast.


“Our special coverage is hosted by Shaun McMahon, 20-year Montreal radio veteran and now, member of our creative, multi-platform communications team. In each episode, Shaun will dive into the many corners of CIUSSS West Central Montreal, in both English and French, to bring you the best stories. Stories of courage, dedication and hope,” says Glenn Nashen, Associate Director of Communications and Media Relations. “The podcast will also aim answer the many questions that continue to come to light as the pandemic morphs and evolves on a near-hourly basis.”


Distinguished guests over the first week of coverage have included Associate CEO Francine Dupuis, as well as Dr. Mark Karanofsky, Director Herzl Family Practice Centre and attending physician at Donald Berman Jewish Eldercare Centre, Dr. Suzanne Levitz, Associate Director of Professional Services and family physician at Mount Sinai Hospital and Luc Méthot of the Support Program for the Autonomy of Seniors (SAPA). 


No stone will be left unturned, as subjects and guests will span our network from GMFs and CLSCs to right inside the Jewish General Hospital, a Quebec-designated COVID-19 centre.


Episodes are uploaded and available NOW at ciussswestcentral.ca/covid19 and ciussswestcentral.ca/podcast, as well as all CIUSSS West-Central Montreal social media platforms (FacebookInstagram & LinkedIn) along with being available on your favourite podcast platform (including GoogleAppleSoundcloudSpotifyiHeartRadio and Castbox).

CSL State of Emergency aims to limit spread of virus

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Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein has been extremely active in putting into action decisive measures to mitigate risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic. CSL has been an early actor to declare a State of Emergency and in shutting down municipal services and facilities. The mayor has been communicating on an urgent basis with residents through its mass calling system.

Leading a city is difficult enough during normal times. During a crisis this is especially true. I was deeply involved in every CSL disaster for the last 40 years and playing a leadership role as City Councillor for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Ice Storm, power failures, home fires, apartment evacuation and underpass floods. CSL has been a leader in emergency measures for decades and is known across the region for its outstanding emergency services and readiness plans.

Currently, I am neck deep (and at times over my head) heading up communication efforts for the West-Central Montreal health authority, which includes the Jewish General Hospital as well as CSL’s Mount Sinai Hospital Centre, Maimonides and CLSC Rene Cassin. My team has been in crisis response mode for almost two weeks. More on that in another post.

Our all-volunteer EMS is unique throughout Quebec offering a 24/7 rapid response to medical emergencies. These life-saving volunteers are deserving of praise on ordinary days. What they are facing now, in keeping us safe, is nothing short of heroic.

Our volunteer Citizens on Patrol provides an extra layer of protection across the community. These 90 volunteers give us a sense of comfort and peace of mind as they circulate up and down every street in our city, watching over us and our property and acting as an early warning system to police, fire, ambulance, Hydro Quebec, public works and more.

Out of abundant concern for its older volunteers, many of whom are over 70 years old, the city has decided to halt this service for an indefinite period. This policy is unfortunate as there are still plenty of younger volunteers ready to do what is necessary and others in the community prepared to offer their time and to be trained to help their community in patrolling with vCOP. Our residents need to see these brightly identified patrollers, especially during times of crisis.

Fortunately, Public Security continues its patrols with professional agents around the clock.

The ill-advised and poorly communicated merger of police stations should be shelved for this year. Our populations and its leaders are poised in another direction and this is not the time for structural reorganization.

Emergency communications is a vital lifeline to our residents. CSL has a superb outbound calling platform that it has begun using during this crisis. The latest call from Mayor Brownstein succinctly and accurately describes the severity of the situation ordering snowbirds to stay home for 14 days and religious communities not to congregate at this time.

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein warns seniors to “stay at home” on CBC National News

As well, the mayor’s continuous presence in local and national media and the city’s declaration of a State of Emergency (by video hook up of City Council) has helped to focus attention on crucial preparation procedures such as self-isolation and shuttering religious and retail facilities.

Beth Chabad Cote Saint-Luc shuttered, along with all religious other institutions

It will be vital to the overall health of each and everyone of us, those around us and all across the country to heed the warnings and to prepare. It’s not too late.

It's not too late to prepare

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Emergency preparedness has been in my DNA for decades. From the Ice Storm, power failures, home fires, apartment evacuation and underpass floods, I have been involved in every wide-scale emergency and disaster in Cote Saint-Luc since first joining the Emergency Measures Organization in 1979.

This gives me an interesting perspective on emergency preparedness given the COVID-19 pandemic facing us all.

Even though I am not involved in Cote Saint-Luc’s planning efforts this time, I have been neck deep (and at times over my head) during the past 10 days heading up communication efforts for the West-Central Montreal health authority, which includes the Jewish General Hospital as well as Cote Saint-Luc’s Mount Sinai Hospital Centre, Maimonides and CLSC Rene Cassin. More on that in another post.

We’re still early into the pandemic in Canada. The dire situation that we have watched unfolding in China, Italy and heading toward us over the past two months is an advanced warning. And it’s still not too late to prepare.

Premier Francois Legault is doing an excellent job communicating daily with Quebecers, together with Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda and Health Minister Danielle McCann

Fortunately for us in Quebec and throughout Canada, our political, healthcare and emergency preparedness leaders have taken this matter very seriously. So much so that many of us were lulled out of complacency and frightened into taking action (and needlessly panicking and emptying store shelves of toilet paper and other supplies).

Snowbirds started packing up early to get back to Canada. Travellers cancelled vacations. Crowds started diminishing as entertainment and sports venues began shutting down. Schools closed. Recreation centres, tourist centres and gathering points started shutting down. Entry to Canada to non-Canadians became sealed except for essential services.

We’ve learned new vocabulary in a matter of days. Social distancing. WFH (work from home). Flatten the curve. Sneeze into your sleeve or elbow.

Everything has changed overnight. And it’s not going back to what it was anytime soon. So what to do?

If you haven’t begun preparing, there’s no time like the present. No need to panic-shop since our supply chain is well intact. Having an adequate supply of non-perishable food, medicine and household goods is a basic necessity at the best of times. Now, it’s even more important as a result of quarantine or self-isolation (be it for reasons of illness, return from travel or as a precaution for your family).

It will be vital to the overall health of those around us and all across the country to heed the warnings and to prepare. It’s not too late.

What does "Flatten the curve" actually mean?

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This is an excellent, easy to understand 8 minute PBS episode explaining the epidemiology of the current coronavirus situation and why it is so crucial not to gather in groups. This is Must See TV!

As many as six COVID-19 cases in Côte-St-Luc, but mayor's quarantine request is denied

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Montreal’s chief public health officer, Dr. Mylène Drouin, said authorities must weigh the possible “collateral damage” of such a quarantine, which was deemed premature at this time.

AARON DERFEL, MONTREAL GAZETTE Updated: March 21, 2020

Coping in a Côte-St-Luc seniors’ residence in the age of coronavirus

Quebec authorities have dismissed imposing a quarantine on Côte-St-Luc — for now — after the west-end municipality reported as many as six cases of COVID-19 among residents at synagogues and an assisted-living facility.

Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province’s chief public health officer, said it was premature to do so despite a request from Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein.

“I think it (would) be dangerous for mayors to take that decision without being in touch with us,” Arruda told reporters in Quebec City.

“This is an exceptional situation. We have never had this in the world. This is not a decision that should be taken in a corner because I’m afraid or I don’t have all the information.”

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante supported Arruda’s position, arguing there are many factors to consider before using the last resort of a quarantine.

“For those who are not familiar, Côte-St-Luc is right in the middle of Montreal, so it’s surrounded by different boroughs,” Plante said at a news conference.

“I understand the mayor’s concern and I think he definitely wants to do the right thing, but for me it’s very important to follow the directive (of the public health department).”

Montreal’s chief public health officer, Dr. Mylène Drouin, explained experts must first analyze the extent of the outbreak in Côte-St-Luc before declaring a quarantine.

“I think at this time we cannot take those decisions without having a public health analysis,” Drouin said, adding authorities must weigh the possible “collateral damage” of such a quarantine.

In an interview late Friday afternoon, Brownstein reacted tepidly to the government’s decision not to proceed with a quarantine.

“We’re relying on the (health) ministry, Santé Québec,” Brownstein said. “We’re just putting them on notice that they should be watching Côte-St-Luc. I have other cases that are already coming forward, more and more every day, so I can see what’s going to happen in our city.”

Initially, Côte-St-Luc reported two points of exposure to the virulent coronavirus: the Beth Chabad synagogue on Kildare Rd., where a small wedding was held on March 12, and an assisted-living residence on Trent Ave., Le King David.

This is where the chronology gets complicated. A resident of Le King David tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a large wedding on March 12 at the Shaar Hashomayim synagogue in Westmount.

On Tuesday, the King David resident fell ill. In response, the operators of the private facility quarantined more than 100 residents. In addition, “several hundred people who attended the wedding (in Westmount have been) asked to go into isolation,” Drouin said.

On March 15, Shaar Hashomayim held another wedding, but this time it respected Premier François Legault’s March 12 order prohibiting gatherings of more than 250 people anywhere in the province to stem the spread of the virus.

On Thursday, the Beth Chabad synagogue posted an open letter on its Facebook page stating there were “a few cases in the Beth Chabad CSL who have tested positive (for) the coronavirus.” Côte-St-Luc was informed three Beth Chabad congregants were infected.

By Friday afternoon, Mitchell told the Montreal Gazette that “we have two more cases from different religious institutions. If they’re coming from places where people gather, it’s not a good thing.”

Those two other institutions are Côte-St-Luc synagogues.

“We’re asking Premier Legault to take steps to consider quarantining the entire city,” Brownstein said in the first of three interviews with the Gazette on Friday.

“Right now, we know that there are hundreds and hundreds of people who have been in contact with those who have been diagnosed, and we don’t want those people out in the public.

“They need to be contacted by Santé publique,” Brownstein added. “So we’re facilitating access to guest lists from a wedding, individuals who are members of Congregation Beth Chabad, and ensuring that (the authorities) have everything to reach all those individuals who should be in quarantine, although we’re advising everybody to stay home.”

On Friday night, Brownstein phoned the Gazette to clarify that the word “quarantine” was perhaps a little too strong. The mayor said he received calls from non-residents who feared they might be blocked from delivering food to parents or grandparents during a quarantine.

Instead, he called upon Quebec to “enforce staying at home, subject to certain conditions.”

Sarah Raskin, the wife of Rabbi Mendel Raskin of Congregation Beth Chabad, said the March 12 wedding at her synagogue was arranged through a caterer.

“It was quite a small wedding, actually,” Raskin said, although she couldn’t provide an exact number. “It was for out-of-town people.”

Raskin added she is aware of only one case of a congregant testing positive for COVID-19, contrary to the synagogue’s Facebook letter stating that there are “a few cases.”

On Tuesday, Côte-St-Luc declared a state of emergency, exercising its powers under the Civil Protection Act. The act allows a municipality to take “immediate action (that) is required to protect human life, health or physical integrity.”

Mitchell said Côte-St-Luc intends to order the closing of all stores, except pharmacies and those that sell groceries.

Lillian Horowitz, a 94-year-old resident of Le King David, is among more than 100 residents who have been in self-isolation.

“Our meals are brought up,” Horowitz said. “I’m not seeing anybody and I’m feeling fine. I’m taking it one moment at a time. I don’t want to panic.”

Horowitz praised the staff at Le King David, saying “everything was just done in an efficient, speedy manner. I was very impressed with how they treated it. The dining room was closed right away so nobody should be mingling with anybody, which was a good idea.”

On Friday morning, the Cavendish Mall posted a notice on its doors advising people the shopping centre “has been shut down.”

Still, people “can access the IGA, Pharmaprix and Bank of Nova Scotia from their front entrances. You can access the CLSC from the doors of the rear parking.”

Glenn J. Nashen, a spokesperson for the centre-west health authority in charge of the Jewish General, declined to comment on the status of the King David resident, saying by email that “I have no information on any specific patient.”

aderfel@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Aaron_Derfel

Coronavirus: Montreal public health races to curb Côte-St-Luc outbreak

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“We have two more cases from different religious institutions,” Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said.

AARON DERFEL, MONTREAL GAZETTE Updated: March 20, 2020

Montreal public health officials are scrambling to contain an outbreak of COVID-19 in Côte-St-Luc while also monitoring hundreds of people across the city who may have been exposed to the highly contagious coronavirus.

“We expected an increase in the number of cases in the last few days, and that’s what we’re seeing,” Dr. Mylène Drouin told reporters at a news conference Friday as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 31 from 28 the day before.

Drouin cautioned that the number was likely to increase later on Friday as more test results rolled in. Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein told the Montreal Gazette that he has been informed his municipality now has four to six cases of COVID-19.

“We have two more cases from different religious institutions,” Brownstein said. “If they’re coming from places where people gather, it’s not a good thing.”

Drouin urged Montrealers to refrain from visiting houses of worship, warning they are “important vectors of transmission.”

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante also called upon people of all faiths to refrain from gathering.

“In the last few days, the city of Montreal has been in communication with different communities,” Plante said.

“The priests of Quebec have decided to close the churches. We have communicated with the council of imams of Quebec. The Hasidic Jewish community has decided to close their synagogues. Therefore, there is good co-operation, but there are still some exceptions, some recalcitrant people, who still want to gather. Whatever your faith, it is really important (to follow these rules).”

Drouin announced authorities will dramatically increase the number of COVID-19 screening tests. On Friday, the number of tests nearly doubled to 920 in Montreal, from 570 the day before.

“Of course, we’re seeing cases that are not linked to travellers,” Drouin explained, noting that the new cases are secondary transmissions — that is, people who contracted the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus from family members or others.

“At this time, we cannot say that we have a sustained community transmission, but we’re expecting it,” Drouin added. On Thursday, Drouin acknowledged for the first time Montreal was reporting small COVID-19 outbreaks in families.

On Friday, she reiterated that “we have family groups that are affected by the situation, schools, student housing, one CHSLD (long-term care centre) and we had cases in a big event that was a wedding.”

It was not clear whether Drouin was alluding to a government-run long-term care centre or the private Le King David assisted-living facility in Côte-St-Luc. Drouin, however, was clear in referring to a wedding held last week at a synagogue.

“I know that there were two cases associated with the event, and we know that there were several hundred people who attended the wedding whom we asked to go into isolation.”

Drouin hinted at new measures, although she declined to elaborate.

“We’re going to take some measures in a couple of days to look at the epidemiological situation for the entire island of Montreal, and to see if there are some sectors, some measures, to take. But those cannot be taken at a local level. We have to make sure that we are aligned with the government.”

Workers put up a temporary wall as the Cavendish Mall is shut down for all businesses that do not have a private entrance on Friday, March 20, 2020. ALLEN MCINNIS / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Quebec’s chief public health officer, Dr. Horacio Arruda, said on Friday it was premature to declare a quarantine for the entire municipality of Côte-St-Luc at the request of the west-end mayor.

As much as possible, Drouin recommended, people should stay home. She cited hairdressers and shopping centres as examples of places people should avoid. On Thursday, she appealed to Montrealers to shop for groceries only once a week.

The health department is foreseeing the possibility of expanding COVID-19 testing to health workers following reports that infected doctors have treated patients.

“Health-care workers will be a priority coming soon,” Drouin said. “I’ve always said that if we do not protect them, we will have problems in two or three weeks.”

Should the pandemic grow much worse in Montreal, authorities would consider using hotel rooms to house some people infected with the coronavirus.

“We’re looking at different possibilities of isolating some people who cannot be at home or we do not want them necessarily in hospital,” Drouin said. “In specific cases, we could use hotels. Of course we have to negotiate (with them) and see what the measures are to put in place to ensure the protection of people who work there or who use the services of hotels. This is something we see in other countries and we do not exclude it.”

aderfel@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Aaron_Derfel

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