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A senior man stands in the centre of a grocery aisle, wearing a PPE mask and holding a shopping basket

Keep up the fight against COVID-19

The danger of complacency
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Revera was the first company in the Canadian senior living sector to appoint a Chief Medical Officer. In her blog series, Dr. Rhonda Collins offers helpful advice for seniors to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

Four months into battling COVID-19 in Canada and I fear that Canadians, and people around the world, are falling into complacency. I get it. It’s difficult to sustain the social precautions, especially during the sunny, hot days of summer. Wearing a mask isn’t the most ideal thing when you’re going about your day. It’s easy to let your hand hygiene slip up. We are starting to see positive signs in our fight against the virus, and it’s at this time that we need to keep our foot on the gas pedal and not let up.

The fight against COVID-19 is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Actually, it’s more like 10 marathons back-to-back. This is a long, exhausting road and unfortunately, we cannot accurately say where we are on it just yet. Researchers are working as hard and as fast as they can to find a viable vaccine, which at this stage is our best option in being able to safely return to normal. Despite our best efforts, we’re still months away from a proven vaccine.
“We are all in this together and we need to cooperate and work together to be successful.”
On top of that, this virus is behaving like previous global pandemics. There’s a first wave that spreads rapidly entering a peak period. Then after this, we see pandemic activity begin to decrease, typically during the summer months. What we don’t know, and what we need to be prepared for, is if a second wave will occur.

Previous pandemics have been characterized by waves of activity over many months. This is why we need to approach any moves to re-open with extreme caution. We don’t want to give the “all clear” signal prematurely and undo the progress that we’ve worked so hard to achieve. For four months now, we’ve been fighting to contain the spread of the virus, and it can all be undone in just a matter of weeks.

Infectious control procedures are hard. It’s a skill that medical professionals need to practice regularly so it becomes second nature. In the case of a global pandemic, it’s also important for the public to continue to adhere to the guidelines being put out by public health officials. We are all in this together and we need to cooperate and work together to be successful.

Online you can find hundreds of videos of people causing scenes and refusing to wear masks in stores, at restaurants and other places. Not wearing a mask has somehow become an act of defiance to demonstrate that personal rights trump the public safety and health of others. Let me tell you, as a physician, you do not have the right to endanger others. Personal liberties do not come at the expense of others. You’re not proving your independence; you’re proving your selfishness. Functioning societies have an obligation to be kind and protect others in our communities, and right now our best defence continues to be wearing a mask in public, washing your hands frequently and practicing physical distancing.

We’re at an important juncture in our battle against COVID-19. Everyone has a part to play and we owe it to each other to not rest and let our guards down. We don’t want to trip at the finish line. So, be safe, wash your hands, don’t touch your face and wear a mask when you’re out in public. It’s a long road, and we still have a way to go before we reach our destination.
Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer of Revera
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Dr. Rhonda Collins brings passion and expertise in memory care, dementia, falls prevention and clinical quality improvement to the role of Revera’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Collins is a family physician with a certificate of added competence in Care of the Elderly from the College of Family Physicians of Canada.