COVID-19 | The time has come to organize the chaos

For almost two years now, as an emergency physician, I have witnessed firsthand the multiple interruptions of care, the physical and mental exhaustion of my peers, and the widespread distress caused by COVID-19 and its associated symptoms. variants within the population.

The more the pandemic progresses, the more I am able to draw parallels with what I experienced as a humanitarian doctor during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. This comparison may seem excessive for some, but in my opinion, the situation in Quebec and elsewhere in the country requires a response as strong and orderly as during a natural disaster.

Take back control of the situation

We have to admit that Omicron has made us lose our means. You could list the mistakes that have been made and that could have been avoided, but I have learned that in an emergency it is best to focus on what you control and what you can do.

I have learned important lessons since my first humanitarian intervention. First, any emergency is divided into four phases: preparation, response, recovery and mitigation.

We failed the first one, since we were unable to adequately anticipate the threat. We are now in the midst of the response phase, which is also experiencing its difficulties, but for which we have possible solutions, which I will list shortly. Ultimately, recovery and mitigation will be critical steps we can take action on. One day, the system will have to be reestablished after this virological tsunami, and we can start today by thinking of the re-establishment of primary care (the point of access to the network), of priority clienteles and, longer. in the long run, by anticipating and preparing for the next crisis.

To respond adequately to the present crisis, according to the 5S principle, we must simultaneously bring together (synchronicity) the following critical elements: labor (staff), equipment (stuff), space (space) and the system (systems). As soon as one of them is deficient, the emergency response is inadequate and jeopardizes the results. Until now, these elements have never been brought together, which partly explains the cataclysm that we know.

Use the means at our disposal

Given the difficulties we have in bringing together the four critical elements necessary for an optimal emergency response, it is important to considerably reduce the entry of new patients into the network in order to limit the damage. This is largely based on the adherence of the entire population to health measures, but above all to vaccination. The vaccine is the most effective tool at our disposal to mitigate the effects of the crisis.

Every day, I see hospital admissions of patients with COVID-19 who are suffering and critically ill. They are mostly unvaccinated.

Currently, in Quebec, unvaccinated patients are over-represented in hospital compared to their actual weight in the general population: they are 7.5 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who have received two doses of the vaccine. It’s enormous !

I am sorry to see patients who would otherwise be healthy make such a choice. We have the privilege of living in a G7 country and of having access to vaccines. It seems logical to me to opt for vaccination, both for oneself and for our elders, our children and our caregivers.

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