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Dr. Howard Ovens answers your COVID-19 questions

Oct. 22, 2020

Philanthropy has helped Sinai Health prepare for the “second wave” of COVID-19. Dr. Howard Ovens, Sinai Health’s Chief Medical Strategy Officer explains how donors are helping our champions of care deliver better care and next-level research to keep people across Ontario safer through this pandemic. Dr. Ovens also shares some common-sense tips to help you navigate the coming months.

How have donors helped Sinai Health prepare for the second wave?

Dr. Ovens: The Sinai CEO fund has provided vital staff training and equipment we and our patients need. We’re getting better at treating complicated cases and reducing mortality by learning how best to use high-flow oxygen, when to ventilate and when to use corticosteroids. It provided baby monitors to support care for COVID patients in isolation, as well as iPads for patients to visit with family and friends when visiting in person was strictly limited. The summer months allowed us to catch up on wait lists, stock up on PPE and other crucial supplies, and refine virtual care services.

With COVID cases surging again, what’s your best guess for how health care will be affected in the coming months?

Dr. Ovens: The lockdowns and the complete pause on scheduled health care during the first wave was a powerful reminder that, as much as those precautions helped slow the spread of COVID-19, they also caused some unintended harms. In the second wave, I expect we will have frequent "adjustments" as cases ebb and flow and outbreaks occur, but I doubt we’ll see the broad lockdown of the whole province or of scheduled care in health care again. Depending on the numbers, we may see some reduction in scheduled care, like surgery, but not another complete pause like we experienced in the first wave.

How can we best protect ourselves and our families over the coming months and into the winter?

Dr. Ovens: Rest, healthy diet, exercise, spend time in nature and connect with friends even if only over a device. During winter in Canada, a Vitamin D and/or C supplement at recommended doses can support immune function. Above all, we need to consistently keep to our public health measures. Stay home if you are not feeling well and get tested. Get a flu shot. When indoors wear a mask and stay 6' or more away from others.

For more advice and insights about COVID-19, check out past episodes of Champions of Sinai: Understanding the COVID-19 Pandemic, available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and at sinaipodcast.ca.


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