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Oct. 15, 2020

15 octobre 2020


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VIEWPOINT: Despite dire warnings, the sky is not falling on local hospitals
By Fred Sherwin
Oct. 15, 2020

First, I want to thank Ottawa Citizen columnist Randall Denley for drawing attention to the fear-mongering campaign currently being undertaken by Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches.

Columnists don’t normally “borrow” ideas from other columnists – we like to think that we are independent thinkers with our own unique points of view – but this topic is just too important to limit to the readers of one newspaper alone.

In his column entitled “No, The Ottawa Hospital isn’t overloaded. No, the health system isn’t collapsing”, Denley chastizes Dr. Etches for making “apocalyptic” pre-dictions during a CTV interview that the city’s hospitals are on the verge of collapse. I was going to characterize Dr. Etches predictions as “dire”, but I believe Denley’s characterization is far more accurate.

Judge for yourself. Here is one excerpt from the report which was posted on Oct. 2. “Our health system is in crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Etches, noting hospitals are “stretched to maximum” capacity right now.

“Stretched to maximum” sounds pretty dire. So what are the facts? According to Ottawa Hospital president and CEO Cameron Love, who Denley interviewed for his piece, there have been no more than two COVID-19 patients in intensive care at the hospital’s two campuses at any one time, but “the hospital could handle 30 to 40 such cases with no issue whatsoever.”

Doesn’t seem especially dire, and it sure doesn’t jive with Dr. Etches’ comments. “Yes, Fred, but Love is only referring to intensive care cases,” I can hear some of you commenting “Surely, Dr. Etches is referring to the number of COVID cases flooding our hospitals who aren’t requiring intensive care.”

Not so fast Sherlock, because Love goes on to say that only 17 of the 60 beds set aside in the hospital’s two COVID acute care units are currently being utilized. That was on Oct. 5, three days after Dr. Etches made her comments. According to the OPH COVID dashboard, there were 28 people being treated for COVID-19, six of whom were in intensive care on Oct. 6, but that also includes the Queensway-Carleton Hospital and the Montfort.

So why the disconnect? Why is Dr. Etches warning us that the sky is falling? She’s doing it because it fits into the health care hierarchy’s agenda to scare the crap out of people. She’s doing it because it fits into their push to close restaurant dining rooms and gyms even though there is zero evidence of any outbreaks originating in those same restaurants and gyms. You know why? Because the owners of those restaurants and gyms are bending over backwards and doing everything possible to ensure that never happens.

When I read that CTV story, my first reaction was she’s crying wolf. My second reaction was that even if it were true, how did she and her esteemed colleagues allow such a scenario to become a reality?

The province and the health care hier-archy have been predicting a second wave or surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations for months. I thought they were going to spend that time and additional dollars to increase hospital capacity and purchase more ventilators. By the sounds of it, and judging by Dr. Etches’ comments, they’ve done nothing and that’s even more alarming than her unfounded “apocalyptic” predictions.

It’s inexcusable. Just like the recent resurgence of cases and deaths connected with long-term care facilities and the lack of capacity to keep up with the increase demand for testing. What in God’s name is going on? We put our trust in these people to take care of this crap.

It’s been nearly seven months since the Ford government declared a state of emergency in Ontario and during every one of those months the experts have been predicting a second wave.

So what have they been doing to prepare for that wave? The original shutdown was to buy time. So what have they done during the time that we, the residents of this province, have bought and paid for through a loss in wages and earnings? What have the restaurant owners and gym owners and barbershop owners and other business owners bought after having to close their doors and opening back up to half capacity? Apparently diddlysquat.

Instead, they continue to try to scare us into submission and threaten to put local businesses in jeopardy without any factual basis. It’s sad. It’s scary. And it’s an obvious attempt to try to cover up their inaction to adequately increase hospital capacity and testing. Shame on them all.

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at




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