Article content continued
The benefits also extended to the wider community, since the family was able to follow self-isolation rules and remain at home, preventing further spread of the virus.
Their story is an illustration of the difficult situations faced by Ottawa’s most vulnerable families, said Tonner.
Six community health centres are part of the emergency strategy developed in conjunction with the Ottawa Health Team and Ottawa Public Health.
They spring into action after being alerted by Ottawa Public Health that someone needs support to self-isolate or otherwise manage the complications surrounding COVID-19. As of earlier this week, 338 referrals had been made, almost all of them families.
A caseworker at one of the community health centres co-ordinates everything. “We basically say ‘We’ve got you. What do you need?’” said Tonner.
That could be anything from food and diapers to helping pay the rent, getting a family member to Ottawa’s free isolation hotel, arranging at-home COVID-19 testing or making referrals to other services like mental health support.
They have delivered cell phone chargers. “Because there was only one phone in the family, and the charger broke, and that’s what they needed to be able to communicate with Ottawa Public Health,” said Tonner.
The pandemic is stressful for everyone, said Tonner. But some people have more resources to cope than others.
“We know when people are symptomatic or have been confirmed as being COVID positive, it’s very stressful, and it requires the person and everybody in their household to isolate, typically up to 14 days. And the experience is different for different people.
“if I were to isolate, I have a network of family and friends that could make me food, bring me food, bring me things from the pharmacy. I can afford to order things online. I have many, many devices in my household. That’s not the experience for some of our families and people living in our community.”
The top two concerns of families who have used the service are food and finances, she said.
“They are worried about their rent. They are worried about their bills. They are worried about their children at school if they don’t have technology at home.”
Some large families have had multiple consecutive isolations over as long as six weeks as different people developed symptoms, she said.
“It’s very concerning and it’s very worrisome, because you don’t know how much a family is going to need in order to be safe and well, particularly for families that are alone, or isolated, or new to Canada,” said Tonner.
Improving the ability of everyone in the community to self-isolate when required is a major concern among medical professionals and others.
This content was originally published here.