Past president of the OMA says last week was the worst of his career
BARRIE, ONT. -- As the third wave of the pandemic continues to spike, there is growing concern about mixed messaging and the vaccine supply. CTV's Craig Momney speaks with the Past President of the Ontario Medical Association, Dr. Sohail Gandhi about how patients are impacted by cancelled surgeries.
Craig Momney: We are seeing case counts in the province over 4,000 and setting records for the pandemic; what are your thoughts?
Dr. Sohail Gandhi: I've been practicing medicine for 29 years, and I have to tell you from a health person's perspective, last week was probably the worst week I've ever seen in my 29 years of practice. It was a very, very difficult for the health system as a whole. We've got over 600 patients with COVID in the ICU and more than 400 on ventilators.
We're seeing scenarios that, you know, I would have never in a million years would have guessed would be happening. We're seeing the Hospital for Sick Children saying, you know what, we'll take adult patients in our intensive care unit, we're seeing the hospitals ask physicians who are family physicians or other physicians to work as intensive care unit nurses; not because there's anything wrong with what the ICU nurses, they are awesome, they've saved my bacon on a number of occasions, but because there's such a dire shortage of people to staff the ICUs.
Craig Momney: Starting today, non-emergency surgeries have been cancelled; what are you hearing from patients?
Dr. Sohail Gandhi: Well, this is a disaster; there's no other way to put it. The Ontario Medical Association had done a survey across the country, and across Canada, we're at about 15 million delayed visits or delayed procedures, and that was before this emergency shutdown that's occurred this week. We're talking about patients who are suffering on a daily basis with, say, knee pain whose knee joint replacement surgery has been put off yet again. We're talking about patients who are losing their vision who cataract surgery has been put off yet again because the reality is there's no such thing as elective surgery in the Canadian Healthcare System.
Everything that's done is done because it's essential, it's just a degree of how essential it is, and those people are really struggling right now.
Craig Momney: How do you get people to buy in again to slow down the transmission of the virus?
Dr. Sohail Gandhi: We're in a really tough situation because I'll be candid, the messaging from various levels of government hasn't been the best on this, and that's played a role in this.
I think there are certain communities that haven't seen the seriousness of the disease and, you know, when you don't see it first hand, and when you're not looking at a patient who you have to put a tube into and knowing that if only that patient hadn't gone to a gathering with their family last week, they wouldn't be in this situation.
When you're not looking at that on a regular basis, of course, you don't see it, and you don't appreciate how serious it is. All I can really ask people to do is just consider the number of people in our intensive care units.
Craig Momney: How long will it take realistically to ensure that we don't get a fourth wave?
Dr. Sohail Gandhi: It's all going to depend on the vaccines, and unfortunately, our federal government has done a pretty poor job of procuring the vaccines. (Prime Minister) Trudeau really has not excelled in this matter, he's failed frankly in this manner, and because we don't have the supply of vaccines that other countries have, it really is going to depend on how quickly we can get more and get them into the arms of people.
Am I hopeful that we'll get it done by the summer, like promise the first shot at least; you know I can hope, but unfortunately, experience has taught me that the supplies just aren't there.