March 23, 2020
To Smithers Town Council and Deputy Mayor Gladys Atrill
Dear Deputy Mayor and Council, Re: COVID 19 pandemic response As representatives of your local medical community and fellow community members, we need your help. There are continued signs that the global viral outbreak is aggressive and difficult to control once it becomes widespread. As you are aware, we have a small hospital with limited bed space and no pre-existing ICU. (Intensive Care Unit). Of course, we are planning for every eventuality if we end up needing to keep the sickest people here if no transport options exist. But no matter what plans we make, there is no substitute for a properly supplied and staffed ICU. The nearest one is Terrace and they are planning to maximize their capacity of course. There has been a lot of questions about ventilators from the community. This is not our weakest point in the chain of care. It’s the staff and rest of the intensive care infrastructure that would be the issue.
Local medical resources here could be overwhelmed quite quickly. We want to make every effort to prevent this from happening. As the letter March 22 from the president of the Doctors of BC reads today, “Our colleague and Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has been very clear in her direction on COVID-19. The time is now. The public must self-isolate and maintain social distance in accordance with her orders. What they do today will impact the health and perhaps the fate of British Columbians in the next weeks and months.” We would like to partner with you to help manage the outbreak in our region. We are looking to town council to use your municipal authority as community leaders. Please use your resources to help us mitigate the impacts of this outbreak. Specifically, this pertains to the enforcement of physical distancing. It is crucial that physical distancing instructions be disseminated and followed without exception and without delay.
Darren Jakubec, MD, Anesthesia Lead, BVDH (Bulkley Valley District Hospital)
Justin Flynn, MD, Emergency Lead, BVDH
Kate Niethammer, MD
Jodi Preto, MD
Laura Eustace, MD
Karin Blouw, MD
Marlowe Haskins, MD
Sheila Smith, MD
Flora Barnard, MD
Elizabeth Kruithof, MD
(All of us are Smithers/Bulkley Valley based Medical Doctors)