Tuesday, October 06, 2009

H1N1 concerns have government on the defensive

Tuesday proved to be an uncomfortable day for the Province's health minister as Kevin Falcon tried to keep a handle on growing concern over the province's readiness to combat the H1N1 virus.

The reports from Tuesday focused in on how the province would cope with even a mild outbreak, with suggestions that a shortage of vital ventilator equipment could quickly arise should the cases of the flu multiply rapidly.

A confidential Report on Hospital Critical Care Ventilator Capacity outlined the grim forecast that B.C.’s “limited” critical care resources aren’t sufficient to handle an increase in H1N1 patients this fall.

A concern that health officials were quick to downplay, offering reassuring words that they believe the situation is well in hand. With Health Minister Kevin Falcon advising that an additional 25 ventilators have been ordered to help ease the strain on resources across the province, Falcon also outlined how the province has been monitoring developments in Mexico and in Australia/New Zealand as they put together the various aspects of the H1N1 treatment plan .

Among some of the more interesting developments over the last few days has been the announcement that doctors will be paid for H1N1 phone consultations, allowing patients to call in their symptoms and receive some medical advice, if the doctor believes that you need to come in a time will apparently be arranged where your exposure to other patients can be limited.

The province's announcement of the two new funds to help with the cause of handling any H1N1 outbreaks, is proving to be an important step considering their recent ruminations over the need to cut costs in the Health care sector, something that always seemed a little hard to fathom as the province made its preparations for any potential outbreaks.

Still to be determined is a timetable for the introduction of shots for H1N1, in late September the province announced that the regular seasonal flu shots normally delivered in October were to be suspended until at least the new year, that over concerns that the regular flu shots could make patients more susceptible to the H1N1 virus. Only those over 65 and those living in long term care facilities will receive the regular flu shot this month, the rest of us will be asked to wait until the new year.

Among the many media options in the province, The Tyee has been following the developments on the H1N1 front quite intensively, outlining the many challenges that it will provide as the fall turns into winter.

The Tyee-- BC Pandemic Preparedness Plans in Place: Chong
The Tyee-- How Good is the BC Pandemic Plan?
The Tyee-- How the Media Blew the Flu
The Tyee-- BC planning for new outbreak of swine flu
The Tyee-- Will Olympics need swine flu vaccinations?
The Tyee-- The Coming Struggle over Swine Flu Vaccine
The Tyee-- Surfing a Swine Flu News Tsunami

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