Priorities included in the Public Health Sudbury and Districts report focus on children, mental health and supporting safe spaces
With the COVID-19 pandemic nearing the two-year mark, Public Health Sudbury and Districts has released its plan for recovery as the province continues to ease restrictions.
The report, titled “Public Health Sudbury & Districts and the COVID-19 pandemic: From risk to recovery and resilience,” identifies immediate priorities for public health action. Priorities include getting children back on track, increasing opportunities for health, fostering mental health gains, and supporting safe spaces.
Public health said there are significant intersections between the four public health recovery priorities.
“This will assist in amplifying our actions as we collaborate across the agency to plan concrete programs and services,” according to the report. “Given that public health’s transition to recovery is occurring concurrently with the need for ongoing pandemic response, our approach is streamlined so that it is adaptable to these competing needs as they evolve.”
Public health board chair René Lapierre said there isn’t a person over these last two years left untouched by the pandemic.
“The board of health is committed to a recovery path that supports everyone, and especially those who experience greater disadvantage. We are turning our attention to building a very hopeful future together.”
Since the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on Jan. 30, 2020, and a pandemic on March 11, 2020, Ontario’s 34 local public health agencies, in collaboration with provincial and local partners, have been at the forefront of pandemic response — controlling virus spread, preventing infections, outbreaks, and severe disease, providing vaccines, assessing and managing local risks, and learning, communicating and acting on rapidly changing science.
Public Health Sudbury and Districts has provided this leadership and essential services to support and guide the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts during this long and difficult period, said the health unit in a news release.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has tested us as individuals, communities, and as a society,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer for Public Health Sudbury and Districts. “I am humbled by and proud of the commitment and contributions of so many people too numerous to mention — including for example, members of the public and all our friends and neighbours, retired and active health and enforcement professionals, elected leaders and their staff, business owners, teachers and parents, local service agencies, and our own Public Health team. We have relied and leaned on each other to get through this just as we will as we start on our next steps to recovery.”
Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021, Public Health reported 5,553 cases and followed up on 20,810 contacts of COVID-19 among residents in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts (for the first month of 2022, those numbers were 3,513 and 162, respectively). Public Health also led the local COVID-19 vaccination program rollout, having provided 80 per cent of all doses in 2021.
In addition, Public Health ensures regular and timely public communications. Its 2021 statistics include a handling of almost 25,000 calls and inquiries through its COVID-19 call centre and just under 260,000 calls to the City of Greater Sudbury and Public Health vaccination booking centre. This is in addition to frequent public updates through the website and social media platforms and ongoing communication with partners.
“These extraordinary COVID-19 response efforts have meant that Public Health has had to stop or radically reduce many programs, services, and supports offered to the community,” Sutcliffe said. “For two years, we have redeployed the majority of our staff and redirected almost 80 per cent of our resources to pandemic response, resulting in a large and growing backlog of public health programs, services and unmet needs.
“While we continue to respond to the Omicron variant, I am optimistic that we can plan for a future in which COVID-19 is not the sole public health focus and we can contribute to the local recovery efforts ensuring healthier communities for all.”
Download Public Health Sudbury & Districts and the COVID-19 pandemic: From risk to recovery and resilience (PDF) and 2021 COVID-19 Response by the numbers (PDF) and learn more by visiting phsd.ca or calling Public Health Sudbury and Districts at 705-522-9200.