To our Patients and Community,
We are committed to doing our utmost to keep you, our patients, our employees and our community at large safe, healthy and informed.
As of March 16th, we have effectively paused in-patient medical care and remain available to you remotely. In the coming days you will continue to hear from us by phone and email and can reach us at our main line 416.644.1112. Should we be unavailable to take your call, there is an option to leave either a voice message or text. We are committing to respond within a timely fashion but ask for your patience due to the large number of inquiries and reduced staff that we are facing.
There is much we can do. Social distancing measures, city-wide closures and the preventative and protective isolation of people without symptoms but at risk may seem drastic measures but are being taken nation-wide to flatten the curve and limit the impact of COVID-19. Staying informed and complying with the continually updated recommendations can help keep you and your loved ones healthy and safe.
Having worked through SARS1 in 2003 as a front line health care worker, I know how real the threat of this virus is. SARS-CoV2, the current strain of the coronavirus wreaking havoc on the world, causes an acute respiratory disease, termed COVID-19, which is usually more mild an illness than the 2003 version. In fact, because most infected people have few or no symptoms they are more likely to spread the disease (especially children who may have no symptoms but are often in contact with larger numbers of others including those at risk). We learned from those countries hit earliest and hardest, China, Italy and Iran, that containment is NOT an option. We must instead work together to flatten the curve and focus on management.
The countries that have been most successful in limiting the impact and death toll are those that immediately adopted quarantine measures like those enacted in Canada over the past few days and simultaneously ensured that assessment and testing centres are widely available to identify cases. I am optimistic that as a well-governed, law-abiding nation we will heed the warnings of our Health experts and Government bodies and come together to find our way through. But it won’t be easy nor will it be soon. Experts predict a course that could run as long as 18 to 24 months and ultimately claim millions of lives worldwide with an estimated death rate of 1% to over 3%. Our must vulnerable are at highest risk including the elderly and those with heart disease, high blood pressure (especially if taking a class of medications referred to as ACE inhibitors), diabetes, respiratory disease and otherwise compromised immune systems. Protecting and supporting these individuals and keeping them safe is a priority.
Our Canadian healthcare system is informed by our 20003 first-hand experience. We have set up testing centres across the country, including these 7 that are operating presently in Toronto (see map here). Nearly all elective and non-urgent care is put on hold to free capacity for emergency care for those in need. Physicians across the country are on call.
Any individual experiencing symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 as listed below or with a recent travel history anywhere outside Canada are asked to self-isolate for 14 days. They can seek help 24 hours a day from Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 and can refer to this online tool to decide if testing is indicated.
Symptoms suggestive of COVID-19:
- Coughing, sneezing, sore throught
- Breathing difficulty, shortness of breath
- New or unexplained rash
- Fatigue, muscle weakness or aches
- Vomiting, diarrhea
Self-isolation is recommended for any individual with any of the following:
- Travel from anywhere outside Canada within the past 14 days
- Known contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID-19
- Suggestive symptoms (as above)
We continue to assess the situation on a daily basis and will provide updates to you as the situation unfolds. We are rescheduling any current appointments to a later date starting the week of April 6th, anticipating that by this time we will be able to resume some degree of normalcy. We will continue to communicate with you as we gain more clarity and remain available to you throughout this time.
We thank you in advance for your understanding and for your own efforts to work through these challenging times. We continue to place your health and wellbeing as our priority and provide the highest standard of ongoing patient care.
On behalf of the entire PearlMD team, we want to extend to you and yours our most sincere wishes for health and wellbeing during this difficult time.
Dr. Jennifer Pearlman, MD CCFP NCMP FAARM ABAARM