There is almost no end to the list of responsibilities that fall under the purview of public health units in Ontario, from water quality testing at beaches to health education in the community.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Public Health staff were re-deployed to deal with the crisis.
The number of COVID-19 active cases and hospitalizations remain relatively low in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington currently, allowing KFL&A Public Health staff to return to their pre-pandemic duties and catch up.
Immunizations for school-aged students is one area, in particular, the health unit has made great strides in.
“We have increased that compliance,” said Dr. Piotr Oglaza, KFL&A’s medical officer of health. “Currently we are at 93 per cent, so this is close to what we had pre-pandemic.”
Kingston Health Sciences Centre has been able to cautiously ease some of its workload at the Beechgrove COVID-19 assessment centre.
“We are tapering some of the activity. We don’t have physicians there at the moment because they really haven’t been needed for COVID,” Dr. David Pichora, the President and CEO for Kingston Health Sciences Centre, told Global Kingston.
While KFL&A Public Health catches up on many of its community programs, Oglaza says if active COVID-19 case numbers rise, the organization is ready.
“We are able to pivot when needed. We’re working with very dedicated partners both from pharmacies, primary care and service organizations in the community, so we have these partnerships already developed,” said Oglaza.
Pichora says the latest round of Omicron variants circulating throughout the region are being monitored closely.
“The prevalence numbers right now, the staffing absences, the wastewater testing are all showing an uptick, likely in response to this BA.5 resurgence,” said Pichora.
Both Pichora and Oglaza emphasize past health measures like frequent hand washing and physical distancing are still worth following because the pandemic isn’t over.
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