Right in the centre - There is hope


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

It’s hard not to be discouraged. Every day, we are bombarded with news about sickness and deaths. COVID-19 has run a ragged course through our population, made all the worse by receiving a limited range of information.

Our governments have fixated on the number of tests, cases and deaths. That’s all well and good, but when faced with a problem, people need facts, yes, but they need the whole story in perspective and they need hope.

We are getting facts, but not enough information. We know on a daily, grinding basis how many cases and deaths there are, but where is the perspective? We are told how many people die every day from C-19, but why not tell us how many deaths each day from other causes? The death rate from C-19 is nearly equalled by traffic deaths and perhaps by suicides, as well. Sadly, we lose about 30 people a day from all causes every year. If health officials feel so compelled to tell us the number of C-19 deaths, it would make sense to tell us about all the deaths. Had the level and detail of reporting been available over the years about influenza deaths, we would have been better equipped to handle this current influenza. Maybe, to give some perspective and hope, we could hear how many babies are born each day.

C-19 testing is still a big issue. It may be fairly accurate, but why are we still sticking an uncomfortable swab up our noses to get a test when so-called spit tests are available? Maybe there is a good answer, but it isn’t forthcoming. Maybe it’s cost. I don’t know.

If it is cost, then the money that was wasted, yes wasted, on visitors’ boxes at care homes could have been better directed to better sanitation and better, faster testing. If proven wrong, I will apologize, but I feel the visitors’ boxes being placed at every care home is sheer insanity. 

I will be the first to admit that health care workers have a very hard job. I only have experience with local, rural settings, but “almost” every report we hear is of very positive care, be it in our care homes or in our hospitals.

I do have one big concern and that is Manitoba Health still seems to believe that C-19 can be slowed or controlled in larger centres like it was apparently controlled in Prairie Mountain Health. They point to how “well” Prairie Mountain Health did when it went to Code Orange and back to Code Yellow. PMH “controlled” the spread. We are told that if only the same measures are applied in Winnipeg as was in Neepawa, Rivers and other communities, it will be all good. I don’t believe it.

In PMH, there were identifiable outbreaks, but they were in very small communities that could both identify and isolate the sick among them. In addition, people from Westman communities, for the most part, only mix within their own bubble. Let’s face it, most rural people have a relatively small circle of contacts at any time and an even smaller one now. The cities can’t do that. Just as C-19 ripped through other densely populated areas, it may well rip through Winnipeg.

Then there is always the whole question of protecting the vulnerable. I agree, totally, we need to protect the elderly and health compromised people. Generally, and I emphasize, generally speaking, younger and healthier people recover at a very high rate. No health department is telling the real story behind the elderly deaths, now or in the past. Having more than one resident to a room in a care home has never been a good thing. People need their own safe space from a privacy point of view, mental wellness, sanitation, whatever. Sixty years ago, my grandma had her own space, her own room in our house and she could stay in there as long or as much as she liked. Having her own space and being able to come out or go for a walk when she wanted to likely added years to her life. She lived until she was 89 and that was 60 years ago.

Diseases like C-19 take a heavy toll among those who are low in Vitamin D. We hardly ever hear that, but the logic is so obvious. You get Vitamin D mostly from milk, sunshine and cod liver oil. Guess what? When was the last time our care home folks were out in the direct sun, had a glass of milk or a shot of cod liver oil?

My point is, there is much more that can be done than counting cases, tests and deaths, but we’re are not hearing about it. There is much more that could be done, but we aren’t embracing enough research and ideas. We are all to blame, government, media and we as citizens. We could all do much better and we should be doing much better. There’s a whole range of options when it comes to information and procedures and we need to be open to them.

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer chair of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.