Delta Hospital is getting two new pieces of critical equipment — one to help repair cataracts, the other to help kill harmful micro-organisms — thanks to a $335,000 donation from The Cowell Foundation.
The generous first-time gift from the Richmond-based foundation — created and funded by the Cowell Family, owners and operators of Cowell Auto Group — will be used to purchase a new Sentry Vision System, which is used by the hospital’s busy surgical services department for cataract surgery. The procedure, called phacoemulsification, uses ultrasound vibrations to remove cloudiness over the eye lens. Over 950 cataract surgeries have been performed at Delta Hospital this year, and the current Sentry Vision System has reached the end of its life.
The foundation’s donation will also go to purchasing a new ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) unit for the hospital. The device provides an additional layer of infection control on top of standard cleaning procedures by emitting pulses of ultraviolet light, killing harmful bacteria and viruses that can spread quickly throughout the hospital and put vulnerable patients at risk. Delta Hospital will be the first site in Fraser Health to own and operate a UVGI device.
“We are humbled to have received this incredibly generous gift from The Cowell Foundation,” Lisa Hoglund, executive director of the Delta Hospital and Community Health Foundation, said in a press release.
“Delta has one of the fastest growing senior populations in Fraser Health, and it is critical that our medical staff have the most state-of-the-art equipment to ensure the very best patient care. We could not do this without the generosity of donors, and we feel very fortunate The Cowell Foundation has chosen to support Delta Hospital.”
Nova Scotia's freedom of information online service reopens after lengthy redesign – HalifaxToday.ca
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia has restored an online portal through which the public can submit freedom of information requests, almost three years after the site was shut down because of a security breach.
The new site was launched Thursday and allows people to track the progress of requests, pay fees and receive responses.
The site was shut down in March 2018 after a 19-year-old downloaded documents from the site to his home computer.
About 7,000 documents were accessed over two days, affecting 700 people.
The young man wasn’t charged because he told officers he had used a widely available software to search for documents about a teachers’ labour dispute, and it became clear to authorities that the basic firewalls weren’t in place.
The province says it has updated and improved security features on the site to prevent further breaches.
Paula Arab, Nova Scotia’s Internal Services minister, said the province has a five-year contract worth $760,000 with two companies to operate the site.
Arab said it took time to set up the portal because the project was split into several parts. One portion involved receiving requests while another involved disclosing documents. Added security measures also required time, she said.
“We wanted to do as many security tests as we could and to come up with the right solutions, and we took seriously two reports given to us following the (security) breach,” Arab said.
The new access to information application site can be found at iaprequest.novascotia.ca.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.
The Canadian Press
Pregnant women advised to weigh risks of getting COVID vaccine, talk with their doctor – CBC.ca
A doctor at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax says pregnant women should talk with their doctors and weigh the risks of getting the COVID-19 vaccine given the lack of data available right now.
Pregnant women were excluded from initial clinical trials for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which means there’s no information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for them.
Dr. Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, said there’s no blanket recommendation telling Canadian women who are pregnant or breastfeeding not to get immunized, but “theoretical risks” should be considered.
“It’s really a case-by-case basis, individual decision of that risk,” he told CBC’s Information Morning on Thursday. “If somebody is not seen coming into contact with people with COVID-19 and they’re pregnant, they might be able to afford to wait several months and get the vaccine as soon as they deliver.”
Women working on the front lines of the pandemic may have different considerations, he added.
Information Morning – NS7:40COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant?
“If somebody is in a position where they are much more likely to be exposed, then that individual risk might be more from the COVID-19 and a woman might choose to get the vaccine during pregnancy, and we’re seeing both of those situations and both of those different types of decisions,” Halperin said.
Early research released in December from the University of British Columbia shows that pregnant women are at higher risk of being hospitalized if they do get the virus compared to non-pregnant women in the same age group.
Researchers cautioned that their study is preliminary and only included data from cases in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.
Data could be available later this year
Halperin said at this point there are no red flags that the COVID vaccines themselves are harmful to a mother and baby.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which provides advice to the federal government, recommends that approved COVID-19 vaccines may be provided to people excluded from clinical trials, “if a risk assessment deems that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential risks for the individual.”
“The biggest risk is if somebody, a woman, had a fever with the vaccine, which you can get and if it were a high fever, fever itself can be harmful, not all the time, but occasionally to the fetus, so it’s that type of risk that we’re looking at,” Halperin said.
That could be a small risk compared to the risk of getting COVID-19, he added.
Halperin estimates it could still be six to eight months before data about how pregnant and breastfeeding women respond to the vaccine is available.
“There are women who are getting the vaccine and we’ll be collecting data from women who do receive the vaccine in order to see how they respond to the vaccine and to ensure that it is safe,” he said.
Halperin advises women trying to get pregnant to take a similar approach and weigh the risks.
“If one gets the vaccine, one should wait about a month or six weeks before getting pregnant … even theoretically there wouldn’t be lasting risks so one doesn’t have to not get pregnant for a year, just for a matter of weeks.”
He said at one time pregnant women weren’t involved in clinical trials at all over concerns about harming the fetus.
“That’s no longer considered to be ethically sound because we need to use vaccines in pregnant women, and therefore we need to get data from clinical trials from pregnant women, but they’re still excluded from the initial studies,” Halperin said.
Studies involving pregnant women and children are only done once the vaccines are deemed safe for the general public, he said.
More vaccines on the horizon
People who are immunocompromised also weren’t part of the initial clinical trials for the vaccines, and Halperin said it’s a good idea for them to talk with their health-care providers about the risks of getting immunized.
“Right now, there are very few exclusions to getting vaccinated,” he said. “People who have had anaphylactic reactions to vaccines in the past … should take care with immunizing.”
Halperin said more vaccines will be available to Nova Scotians in the months ahead. The U.K. was the first country to approve the new AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and Halperin expects Canada won’t be far behind.
“Hopefully within a month or so, we’ll have maybe four vaccines and further ones a couple of months beyond that.”
NewsAlert: Manitoba eases COVID-19 restrictions – Winnipeg Free Press
WINNIPEG – The Manitoba government is easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions in southern and central areas as case numbers continue to slowly drop.
Starting Saturday, non-essential retail stores will be allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity. Since November, they have been limited to delivery or curbside pickup service.
Hair salons, barber shops and some personal health services such as reflexology can restart as well.
A ban on social visits inside private homes is being eased. Households will be allowed to designate two people who will be allowed to visit indoors. Up to five people can visit outdoors.
“Our collective progress in reducing the spread of COVID means we can undertake these very careful, very cautious reopenings at this point,” Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said Thursday.
The changes will last three weeks, at which time more openings could be considered, Roussin said. The changes are not being made in the northern health region, where outbreaks in isolated communities have caused a spike in case numbers in recent weeks.
Health officials reported 196 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday and five more deaths. More than half the new cases were northern residents.
The Retail Council of Canada welcomed the news that some restrictions would be eased.
“We’re relieved by today’s announcement that follows over two months of very severe restrictions that have left retailers limping along using curbside delivery where possible,” council spokesman John Graham said.
While non-essential stores can reopen, some other businesses, including gyms, bars and nail salons, must remain closed. Restaurants will continue to be limited to takeout and delivery.
With the demand for intensive care unit beds still running above pre-pandemic capacity, Roussin said special care must be taken when it comes to places where people gather.
“Venues that have prolonged, indoor contact — crowded places, enclosed spaces — those are where a lot of the risk (of virus transmission) lies,” Roussin said.
Premier Brian Pallister has left the door open to providing more supports for businesses as the closures and capacity limits continue, although did not provide specifics.
Pallister said he is trusting Manitobans to follow the rules, and made special mention of household visits.
“We don’t have enough enforcement people to check every household,” Pallister said.
“We’re asking you to follow the rules because that’s how we’ll keep each other safe.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021
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