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Part IV:  Clerical Errors Affect Real People!

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Medical clerical staff are significant workers in the health centres.

Not only do they support the doctors and nurses in their roles, but they also ensure accurate results which turn into statistical analysis for future treatment recommendations.

But consider the case of my mother, who was allegedly diagnosed with Covid 19 at a seniors’ home and consequently spent two weeks in isolation (quarantine) as per government policy.

Nearly two weeks later, a note was added to her file of which the content follows:

November 27, 2020

Dear Resident/Family Member

 

I am writing to you to confirm that we have had no other residents at …. test

positive for COVID-19. With that being said, we have taken many residents off isolation today

due to a clerical error from AHS that resulted in a false positive reporting.

The director of the facility ends the letter off with an interesting paragraph:

Please also know that the best defense against the spread of this virus are actions that are well

within each of our control: stay home as much as possible, practice physical distancing (2

metres)/ wash your hands regularly/ use good cough etiquette and avoid touching your mouth.

 

 Without playing the victim card, what is the consequence of this clerical error to the individual who made the error?

For my mother, she lost 2 weeks of her life isolated in her apartment with a hazmat suit, masks and gloves in front of her unit.  She could not receive visitors and was not able to see her family.

 

Like any senior, student, teacher or worker who may have received a false positive, they are not faceless or nameless.  Errors have real life consequences.

This marks the 5th time of isolation in the retirement home.  Of these 5 times, ALL were due to policy i.e. 2-week isolation for a negative test or returning from a trip to visit family.  While initially based on a positive indicator, this last circumstance was triggered by a hallway disinfection during which she had coughing symptoms and a test was administered.  It turns out the particular disinfectant used by the home may trigger a coughing reaction.

However, the test was conducted and the positive was overturned.  Mea Culpa.

I have to wonder what the clerical staff who erred received for their gaffe?  The note is not clear as to if the clerical error was on the part of the technician or the individual entering the results. Either is unacceptable-technical or clerical side.  Or the alternate questions, how many other people had their lives turned upside down due to the error?  We also have to wonder how many people were contact traced and as well had to isolate?

We can probably estimate that for each false positive, 5 people were requested to be tested and if the test was incorrect OR the clerical staff erred there could be as many as 50 false results that day.

Province wide, what was the impact on the daily fright report?  If again, 50 people were false, our daily numbers would fall.  Perhaps more results were incorrect?   We do not know, but we do know that peoples’ lives are not to be tampered with and such activities should not be merely accepted.

Extending the argument system-wide, it is these types of errors that continue widespread criticism of our response to the virus.  Clerical errors can cause elevated numbers and create more panic (and thereby justify more extreme measures) just as inaccurate or no reporting of other diagnosis such as the influenza and related deaths, suicides, automobile accident fatalities, drug overdoses due to depression and potential  prescription related deaths (#3 in the US).

It is well know by anyone who has undergone physiotherapy for shoulder or leg injuries that if your left arm is injured that you will over compensate on the right side.  Therefore as one limb heals, the other can also be injured leading to another cycle of physio.  The same principle should apply to our health system.

While Covid 19 is a ‘real’ virus with real world threat, it must be considered as part of a larger pie to give world citizens a balanced view of our national health threats else our go to strategy for health management is crisis instead of calm and long term nutritional and holistic approaches.

Clerical errors not withstanding, errors must be publicly acknowledged and corrected.  Incorrect positive tests (cases) must be modified and appropriate actions taken to ensure honesty in health reporting.  The citizens of our cities, provinces and countries deserve truth from our health providers and ministries.  Responsibility and accountability MUST be part of a responsible and responsive health system.

To take a quote out of context, “One small misstep for man, one large misstep for mankind.”

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Lasiuta is a Red Deer writer, entrepreneur and communicator. He has interests in history and the future for our country.

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City of Red Deer

Current COVID-19 situation in Red Deer leads to emergency order for temporary shelter

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The Emergency Operations Centre has signed an Emergency Order to allow the temporary emergency shelter at Cannery Row to continue operating for the duration of the State of Local Emergency, including any renewals, or until this order is revoked.

“Our healthcare system is overloaded and cases are surging in our community. The decision to put the emergency order in place to allow the operations of the temporary shelter at the Cannery Row site did not come easy, we took into consideration the current outbreak status among our vulnerable population, the pressures on our emergency response services and the ability to support community-based outbreak protocols. We want to make sure our vulnerable population have access to care and resources, with the intent of diverting non-emergent issues from the hospital,” said Ken McMullen, Director of Emergency Management. “The site will allow us to monitor, test and mitigate any further community-based spread and increased dependency on our already strained health supports.

A third party organization will continue to operate the shelter, with the Provincial Government to continue funding the operations. Mitigation strategies implemented in May will continue in the area while the temporary shelter is operational.

“We have extended the mitigation tactics in place to mirror the timeframe of the order, tactics such as security, cleanup, area liaison and fencing will continue for the time being to help minimize issues faced by surrounding residents and businesses,” said McMullen. “Our number one goal here is to keep our community safe and minimize the spread while protecting our healthcare system. We are in a situation where hard decisions need to be made to protect all Red Deerians, and we believe that this order will help meet our goal.”

The ability to implement the order comes following the State of Local Emergency (SOLE) being enacted on September 17 for up to 60 days by the Emergency Advisory Committee. The SOLE gives The City access to additional resources and special powers under the Emergency Management Act, including personnel, from other orders of government if required.

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Alberta

Tale of two tea houses: Differing approaches to vaccine passport in High River, Alta.

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CALGARY — Two tea houses in one southern Alberta community have become an example of the uncertainty caused by the government allowing businesses to make up their own minds about what is essentially a vaccine passport.

Restaurants, bars and pubs have been debating whether they will require a vaccination record before patrons are allowed to enter or if they will limit them to patios and takeout.

Last week, Premier Jason Kenney brought in a “restrictions exemption program” that allows owners to operate with almost no COVID-19 rules as long as they ask for proof of vaccination. Those that choose not to must abide by stricter public health rules.

The United Conservative government has been criticized for downloading the decision. Critics say it causes confusion and forces compliant businesses to face the wrath of anti-vaccination customers.

In High River, a town of about 14,500 just south of Calgary, it’s led to a tale of two tea houses.

Tracey Worsley and her daughter, Rebecca, opened The British Teahouse just eight weeks ago. They’ve decided to close their doors to indoor dining.

“We believe everybody has a choice and it’s not right that businesses should have to make that choice,” Worsley said in a phone interview.

“The government should make the decision like they did last time.”

The Noble Teahouse has been open a year after extensive redecorating of the 113-year-old home.

Operations manager Joelene Smart said it was a hard decision to require the passport but there was little choice.

“It just pulled on my heart a little bit. I’m good with the decision we made, but it’s just not very inclusive.”

Smart said she had a lot of discussions with customers last week and most were supportive, but she agrees with Worsley that businesses shouldn’t have had to make the decision.

“Something needs to happen. I don’t really know what it is, but it’s just sad. It’s causing unrest between families and friendships and businesses. I hope it doesn’t last very long.”

Calgary city council took matters into its own hands this week by passing a bylaw making vaccine proof mandatory for all non-essential businesses, with fines for violators. That new rule began Thursday.

“This bylaw will create a level playing field for business in Calgary and provide clear guidance on how to apply the requirement for proof of vaccination or negative COVID test,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Worsley said she’ll watch customer traffic for the next couple of weeks, but if business doesn’t go well, she might be forced to opt into the program.

She said it’s a difficult decision either way.

“No matter which way you choose to go, you’re going to upset people and you’re not going to please everybody. But … the way I was brought up, everybody in life has a choice. Unfortunately, at the moment, choices are being taken away.”

It remains to be seen if Edmonton will follow Calgary’s move.

“We obviously saw what happened in Calgary. We’re taking a look at that decision right now,” said city spokesman Geoffrey Driscoll.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2021.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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