When emergency physician Dr. Lisa Salamon noticed a sudden rise in the number of patients with COVID-19 being rushed into the emergency rooms of the Scarborough Health Network, she suspected it may be the start of a third wave.
“All of a sudden there’s sicker people coming, younger people coming in with COVID, our ICUs are full again … myself and the nurses started feeling that wave three is here,” she said.
For this very reason, Salamon, who has worked the frontline in Scarborough throughout the pandemic, said she is anxious to vaccinate the people of east Toronto.
“If we don’t get the vaccine into the arms of the people in Scarborough then I am really concerned what wave three is going to look like here,” she added.
Salamon and her colleagues at the Scarborough Health Network (SHN), which is comprised of the Scarborough General, Centenary and Birchmount hospitals, are calling for more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be available to residents of Scarborough.
“What we’ve seen is an equal approach so every one of the sites in Toronto seems to be getting an equal amount of vaccine despite the fact we’re hearing from the province that it should be an equitable approach and the areas in highest need should get more vaccine,” she pointed out.
Tobi Odueke, manager of the vaccine clinics for SHN, noted the team is ready to vaccinate and the clinic at Centennial College is state of the art, but the supply is an issue.
“Even though we get lumped into the Toronto numbers, in Scarborough specifically, the community is affected the most. We have the highest COVID rates … because of the supply and the prioritization that’s done based on the supply, we are not able to do as many people as we would [like],” she said.
Like Salamon, Odueke is asking the Ford government and City of Toronto officials to consider an equitable approach based on location for the distribution of the vaccine.
“Because Scarborough has been hit so much harder — specifically in our area and in the communities we serve — I think it is important we do get more vaccine allocated to here,” she said.
For emergency physician Dr. Mayoorendra Ravichandiran, being a part of the vaccination process is “rewarding” after a long, difficult journey through the first two waves of the pandemic.
“I wanted to get involved right away just because this is a very different feeling from working in the ER … it has been often frustrating and emotionally draining at times and I think the vaccine offers a lot of hope for people,” he said.
Ravichandiran hopes the message gets out in Scarborough and beyond, that the “vaccine is the way out of this.”
For Salamon, watching the start of a third wave in her emergency room, there is little time to waste.
“We’ve been the hot spot for over a year now … we’re a high-risk community and we really want to protect our patients so that they don’t get COVID, they don’t get admitted into the hospital and they don’t end up in the ICU,” she said.
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