Kate Green, Island Health Public Health Nurse and Nicole James, Namgis Community Health Nurse stand in the personal protective equipment at the swabbing tent that had been set up in the Cormorant Island Community Health Centre parking lot. (Submitted)

Alert Bay: COVID-19 cases go from 30 to zero thanks to health and emergency planning

Dr. Cutfeet says community leadership set Alert Bay up for success

Thanks to the efforts of dedicated health care workers, the cases of COVID-19 on Cormorant Island went from 30 to zero over four weeks.

Cormorant Island, which has a community of around 1,200 people, was a hot spot last month when the coronavirus surged through, infecting 30 people. One woman, an elder with the ‘Namgis First Nation, passed away from the virus, but hers was the only fatality on the island.

How exactly did they contain the outbreak so quickly? Local physician Dr. Dan Cutfeet credits the exceptional preparation the ‘Namgis and the adjacent community of Alert Bay have prioritized for years.

“If it was any other community, it might not have gone as well,” he said.

Cormorant Island already had an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) set up, and EOC director Shannon Alfred had pandemic planning training long before it was needed.

“Isn’t that incredible? We were like, ‘What do we do next?’ She was like, ‘Well, we need to talk to this person and get this form,’ ” Cutfeet said.

Alfred’s knowledge was critical in the quick, efficient response. She helped coordinate efforts on the island, and access support from the province.

When the cluster was identified, the two ‘Namgis Health Centre nurses kicked into gear to trace outbreak sources and educate the town. Nicole James and Teliah Vollick knew what gatherings had occurred and who was involved, Cutfeet said, so they knew who to talk to.

“We’ve been here for so long, they know who we are. So there’s trust there,” Cutfeet said.

He described knocking on doors in full protective gear to test people and take their vitals.

“It was just really incredible how well everyone worked together and really did try to assist one another,” he added.

Vancouver Island Health Authority and the Mount Waddington Health Network (MWHW) also jumped in to help.

RELATED: COVID-19: As First Nation grapples with woman’s death, Alert Bay looks to ease restrictions

“They did not come in and try to lead things and push around, they came in saw that we were working, offered their support, and they just did such a good job supporting us,” Cutfeet said.

“There was definitely some intensity and panic. Even though there was was some real fear around the diagnosis and what this means, everyone just really wanted to get this right,” he said.

“There were volunteers, EMS people really working hard, plugging extra shifts and working all hours.”

Regional medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns came in to help coordinate and direct the work, along with her team of public health nurses and an epidemiologist to support the contact tracing. The MWHN sent administrative support to bolster the Cormorant Island EOC. They helped administer hospital transfers as well as finding housing and food for patients who needed to self-isolate.

CoronavirusHealthcareIndigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Canada Day barn fire keeps three Island crews busy

Oyster River, Campbell River and Courtenay fire departments all respond to incident

Campbell River celebrates Canada Day virtually

Three-hour online video of community contributions available at noon Canada Day

Crowdfunding campaign to repair vandalized driftwood sculpture smashes goal in hours

Sarah the Raptor was found vandalized at its Willow Point perch on June 28

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

Splash Park reopens just in time to beat the summer heat

The water park and other parks amenities, except outdoor pool, is now open

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

B.C. repairs COVID-19 emergency order for local government

Ombudsperson shut out as his recommendations implemented

Mirror business directory and map

If you’d like to be added to the list, shoot us an email

No doctor assisted death allowed at Hamlets in Duncan

Faith-based company that owns facility believes in sanctity of life

Trump plans huge July 4 fireworks show despite DC’s concerns

Despite health concerns from D.C.’s mayor, no one apparently will be required to wear masks

Canadian engineer detained in Egypt released, needs treatment, family says

Yasser Albaz was detained at the Cairo airport after a business trip in February of 2019

RCMP arrest armed man on grounds near Trudeau residence

Officers descended on the sprawling estate Thursday morning.

Canada Day tractor incident kills three children, injures seven in Quebec

The tractor driver has been arrested following the accident

Longtime Vancouver Island fishing family hooks into local market over wholesale

Locally caught fish are scarce in fishing towns, an irony one Sointula family is working to change

Most Read