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Our Response

Since January 2020, we have been actively responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Direct local public health actions combined with our strong relationships and work with health care partners, municipalities, partner organizations, businesses, and our community members continues to show the strong and meaningful progress we have all had on flattening the pandemic curve and protecting us from COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in some changes to the way many businesses, organizations and agencies deliver their services or run their business. For public health, in particular this has contributed to the following actions over the course of the pandemic:

We have:

  • Redeployed over half of all staff members to COVID-19 work. 
  • Focused on critical services to meet urgent and time-sensitive needs. 
  • Adopted extra screening, virtual programming, and physical distancing processes for all our staff. 
  • Provided technology enhancements that allows most of our staff to work from home to prevent any transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.

These changes allow us to deliver essential services in new ways that reduce the risk of spreading the virus. They permit us to concentrate on the critical public health response to COVID-19 while keeping our community safe. Being flexible and able to adapt our services and work to fit the current situation is critical to our success in helping bring this pandemic to an end.

Staff redeployment

Since January 2020, our entire staff has worked in some capacity or another to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and/or continue to deliver essential public health services across Simcoe Muskoka. More than half our staff has been redeployed from their regular work to COVID-specific work, including public health nurses, registered practical nurses, public health inspectors, dietitians, nutritionists, dental hygienists, health promoters and support staff. Redeployed staff are dedicated to COVID-related work such as contact tracing and case investigation; and customer service support on our Health Connection line

  • Received and responded to more than 22,881 calls through our COVID-19 call centre.
  • Investigated 94% of cases within one day of being reported. 
  • Identified, traced, and advised 1,428 people who had high-risk exposures (contacts) to confirmed cases of COVID-19. 
  • Conducted post-test follow-up calls. 
  • 2,776 COVID-19 tests for residents and staff at institutions including long-term care and group homes across Simcoe and Muskoka 
  • Processed and/or responded to over 802 media requests related to COVID-19. 
  • Launched social media awareness campaign to promote mental health, community supports, stop the spread public health measures during COVID-19. 
  • Posted 416 key messages to Facebook and Twitter. 
    o Our Facebook posts had a reach of 1,757,383 and generated 15,681 link clicks and 7,951 comments 
    o Our tweets had 753,227 impressions and 4,845 link clicks. 
  • Developed and updated COVID-19 website portal for more than 1,751,065 page views. 
  • Posted local case data on our COVID-19 HealthSTATS page with 1,328,051 page views and on our HealthMAPS COVID-19 Case Explorer (developed April 27th, 2020) which generated 252,411 page views. 
  • Engaged with community agencies and local partners including Indigenous organizations, First Nation communities, municipalities, acute care and partners supporting vulnerable populations.
  • Maintained critical health unit programs and services throughout COVID-19 response. 
  • Developed and distributed 49 Partner Updates to community stakeholders.

To allow us to deliver essential services in new ways that reduce the risk of virus spread, many of our programs and services have been adapted to the current situation. Programs and services are regularly reassessed and adjusted as needed. Examples include:

  • Virtual/phone consultations with clients in the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program. 
  • Virtual/phone consultations for sexual health care and advice and critical appointments when required. 
  • Physical distancing, masking and screening at all offices in order to continue with the safe delivery of the private well water sampling program. 
  • Immunization of children two years and under without a health care provider. 
  • Working on a new plan for Grade 7 immunizations that were scheduled for spring 2020. 
  • New process for tick identification using a third-party online app to reduce the number of visitors to local offices. 
  • Extended hours, including weekends and holidays, for Health Connection COVID-19 response line. 
  • Temporary hold on in-school dental and vision screenings.

Maryjoanna maddiejennifer


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