I’m thrilled to say that both Squamish and the Sea to Sky Corridor appear to be doing remarkably well concerning COVID-19, especially as compared with our less-fortunate U.S. neighbours.
Our provincial government has been thoughtful and responsive. Our health authority — Vancouver Coastal Health — has been organized and extremely cohesive, and most importantly, members of our community have by now largely embraced the social-distancing paradigm — as awkward and uncomfortable as it has been.
This has undeniably made a huge difference, as have the “stay at home,” “don’t get hurt” and “wash your hands” approaches.
Although we have seen some COVID-19 cases, our local hospital hasn’t at any point yet been overwhelmed.
The effective front-line measures undertaken by Squamish residents have provided us with truly invaluable breathing space — during which we’ve been able to effectively organize, train, and prepare for potentially-increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases.
With these actions and behaviours, the people of Squamish are not only keeping themselves safer, but are also protecting others, those whom they love, healthcare workers, the elderly, the immuno-compromised, and the medically
Congratulations on your great work, Squamish.
Due to social distancing and the need for patient and provider safety, physicians and patients have been launched perhaps a little bit faster than we may have planned into the virtual age of telemedicine.
Our local medical clinics are continuing to function in the safest ways we can manage.
Physicians are providing telephone or video “visit-consultations,” with in-office / in-person assessments still offered where it seems both safe and prudent to do so.
The Sea to Sky Walk-in Clinic currently remains open on weekends, and is staffed by the same physicians who work in the local medical offices, and who also may be seeing you in the Emergency Department
should you present there with something more serious than we can manage elsewhere.
The local clinics are currently offering medical care to any Squamish patients (including those who don’t yet have a regular family doctor).
All of Squamish’s mental health services remain open and ready to support those who are struggling emotionally, as well.
And as a very important reminder, the Squamish General Hospital and Emergency Department remain open, including for maternity and newborn care.
Although a hospital is never a place to go unnecessarily, it is still the place we want you to come if you’re very sick or injured (and please call your doctor, one of the local clinics, or 811 if you’re not sure whether or not you should go there).
With the time that you have provided us, we continue to learn more and more about the behaviour of COVID-19, and better ways of treating it.
The societal restrictions and sacrifices we are all now living with continue to buy us even more time and have definitely helped to “flatten the curve.”
And as painful as this is, trust that we will one day be through it; although this situation might pass like a metaphorical kidney stone, it nonetheless eventually
In the meantime, as we adapt, we adjust, and we collectively grieve the loss of our formerly-normal world, we will find new and hopefully temporary ways of living and working, and new ways of appreciating both the people and the things that we most love.
Please, continue to act for the time being as if everyone — including yourself — may be carrying the virus, and as if everything you touch is contaminated.
Treat your palms as if you’ve just flushed the toilet in a public restroom, and avoid touching your face unless your hands are clean.
Continue to social-distance. Either stay home as much as possible, or at least be extremely thoughtful and cautious if you are venturing outside.
Avoid crowds as if they were dangerous, as they may well be.
Our provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, continues to offer us excellent leadership and thoughtful guidance, which has obviously changed several times — and may continue to change (ie, do cloth masks help or not?) — as our understanding of this virus advances.
Please continue to listen to her advice, which of course may change as our understanding of this virus deepens.
Finally, I want to offer an enormous thank you, Squamish for continuing to make such painful individual adjustments and sacrifices for the collective good.
The medical community remains hugely grateful to the community as a whole, and to the many local individuals and businesses who have generously supported us in so many ways during this incredibly challenging time.
Thank you for your donations of money, space, time, meals and labour and, of course, for the incredibly moving 7 p.m. cacophony of encouragement and support; these all mean so much more than could possibly be expressed in a mere letter.
*The views and opinions expressed here are my own - and do not necessarily represent those of Vancouver Coastal Health.
Dr. Lawrence Klein
Co-chair, Sea To Sky Division of Family Practice