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Public health confirm new cases in Oxford and Elgin region – Woodstock Sentinel Review



There were five new confirmed ongoing cases, seven positive tests at Secord Trails Community Care in Ingersoll and one case resolved, Southwestern public health confirmed Friday morning.

Southwestern Public Health building in Woodstock.

jpg, WD

There were five new confirmed ongoing cases, seven positive tests at Secord Trails Community Care in Ingersoll and one case resolved, Southwestern public health confirmed Friday morning.

The positive tests bring the total in the Oxford and Elgin areas to 10 ongoing cases.

There have been 57 cases resolved in the health unit’s region.

Nine of the confirmed ongoing cases are in Oxford County, with four in Ingersoll, two in each of Tillsonburg and Woodstock and one in East Zorra-Tavistock. In Elgin County, there is one confirmed ongoing cases in Malahide.

There is one active institutional outbreak following a positive test of an employee at Secord Trails Care Community in Ingersoll Monday. Subsequent testing has found seven total employees – but no residents – have COVID-19.

The long-term care home, owned by Sienna Senior Living, is working with the health unit to test for any possible spread of the virus.

Secord Trails Community Care in Ingersoll.

The employees are now self-isolating after the outbreak was declared Monday.

The positive tests are the first long-term care facility in Oxford County to have a person confirmed with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Moffatt and Powell RONA in Tillsonburg announced Thursday afternoon a store associate had tested positive for COVID-19. They were notified Wednesday and the employee’s previous shift was Tuesday.

In a Facebook post, they said they’re “proceeding with an extensive cleaning and disinfecting of the premises.”

They’re recommending anyone who visited the store between May 15 and May 19 monitor themselves for symptoms until June 2 and call Telehealth Ontario if more information is needed.

According to new data from the health unit, which comes from the bed census summary from the province’s health ministry, the last hospitalization in Oxford or Elgin due to COVID-19 was April 28.

In the Southwestern public health region, there are no ongoing cases in any of the area’s four hospitals, according to critical care information from the Ministry of Health. The last case in the ICU was May 3 from information provided by the health unit.

The health unit has done 3,855 tests, with 3,553 coming back negative and a further 231 pending results.

A total of 2 per cent of tests done are coming back positive, according to data from Southwestern public health.


Here’s a rundown of our daily coverage on the Woodstock-area fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic from March, April and May.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for breaking news and updates as they happen. Send us a message with any cancellations or stories. For more national stories click here.  

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Study tracks hospital readmission risk for COVID-19 patients in Alberta, Ontario –



A new study offers a closer look at possible factors that may lead to some hospitalized COVID-19 patients being readmitted within a month of discharge.

At roughly nine per cent, researchers say the readmission rate is similar to that seen for other ailments, but socio-economic factors and sex seem to play a bigger role in predicting which patients are most likely to suffer a downturn when sent home.

Research published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal looked at 46,412 adults hospitalized for COVID-19 in Alberta and Ontario during the first part of the pandemic. About 18 per cent — 8,496 patients — died in hospital between January 2020 and October 2021, which was higher than the norm for other respiratory tract infections.

Among those sent home, about nine per cent — 2,759 patients — returned to hospital within 30 days of leaving, while two per cent — 712 patients — died. The deaths include patients who returned to hospital.

The combined rate of readmission or death was similar in each province, at 9.9 per cent or 783 patients in Alberta, and 10.6 per cent or 2,390 patients in Ontario.

For those wondering if the patients were discharged too soon, the report found most spent less than a month in hospital and patients who stayed longer were actually readmitted at a slightly higher rate.

“We initially wondered, ‘Were people being sent home too early?’ … and there was no association between length of stay in hospital and readmission rates, which is reassuring,” co-author Dr. Finlay McAlister, a professor of general internal medicine at the University of Alberta, said from Edmonton.

“So it looked like clinicians were identifying the right patients to send home.”

Examining the peaks

Craig Jenne, an associate professor of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Calgary who was not involved in the research, said the study suggests that the health-care system was able to withstand the pressures of the pandemic. 

“We’ve heard a lot about how severe this disease can be and there was always a little bit of fear that, because of health-care capacity, that people were perhaps rushed out of the system,” Jenne said. “There was a significant increase in loss of life but this wasn’t due to system processing of patients.

“Care was not sacrificed despite the really unprecedented pressure put on staff and systems during the peaks of those early waves.” 

The study also provides important insight on the power of vaccines in preventing severe outcomes, Jenne said.

Of all the patients admitted with COVID-19 in both provinces, 91 per cent in Alberta and 95 per cent in Ontario were unvaccinated, the study found.

The report found readmitted patients tended to be male, older, and have multiple comorbidities and previous hospital visits and admissions. They were also more likely to be discharged with home care or to a long-term care facility.

McAlister also found socio-economic status was a factor, noting that hospitals traditionally use a scoring system called LACE to predict outcomes by looking at length of stay, age, comorbidities and past emergency room visits, but “that wasn’t as good a predictor for post-COVID patients.”

“Including things like socio-economic status, male sex and where they were actually being discharged to were also big influences. It comes back to the whole message that we’re seeing over and over with COVID: that socio-economic deprivation seems to be even more important for COVID than for other medical conditions.”

McAlister said knowing this could help transition co-ordinators and family doctors decide which patients need extra help when they leave the hospital.

‘Deprivation’ indicators

On its own, LACE had only a modest ability to predict readmission or death but adding variables including the patient’s neighbourhood and sex improved accuracy by 12 per cent, adds supporting co-author Dr. Amol Verma, an internal medicine physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

The study did not tease out how much socio-economic status itself was a factor, but did look at postal codes associated with so-called “deprivation” indicators like lower education and income among residents.

Readmission was about the same regardless of neighbourhood, but patients from postal codes that scored high on the deprivation index were more likely to be admitted for COVID-19 to begin with, notes Verma.

Verma adds that relying on postal codes does have limitations in assessing socio-economic status since urban postal codes can have wide variation in their demographic. He also notes the study did not include patients without a postal code.

McAlister said about half of the patients returned because of breathing difficulties, which is the most common diagnosis for readmissions of any type.

He suspected many of those problems would have been difficult to prevent, suggesting “it may just be progression of the underlying disease.”

Looking at readmissions is just the tip of the iceberg.-Dr. Finlay McAlister-Dr. Finlay McAlister

It’s clear, however, that many people who appear to survive COVID are not able to fully put the illness behind them, he added.

“Looking at readmissions is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s some data from the [World Health Organization] that maybe half to two-thirds of individuals who have had COVID severe enough to be hospitalized end up with lung problems or heart problems afterwards, if you do detailed enough testing,” he said.

“If you give patients quality of life scores and symptom questionnaires, they’re reporting much more levels of disability than we’re picking up in analyses of hospitalizations or emergency room visits.”

The research period pre-dates the Omicron surge that appeared in late 2021 but McAlister said there’s no reason to suspect much difference among today’s patients.

He said that while Omicron outcomes have been shown to be less severe than the Delta variant, they are comparable to the wild type of the novel coronavirus that started the pandemic.

“If you’re unvaccinated and you catch Omicron it’s still not a walk in the park,” he said.

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Many sick birds brought to Medicine River Wildlife Centre this spring have fatal avian flu – Red Deer Advocate



Some shaky, lethargic birds being brought to the Medicine River Wildlife Centre this spring are beyond help.

So far, about 20 feathered creatures — from waterfowl to raptors, crows and other corvids — have been diagnosed with avian flu. And all of them had to be put down as “there is no point having them suffer,” said Carol Kelly, executive director of the wildlife rehabilitation centre.

The disease is almost always fatal to birds. There’s no known treatment or cure for the virus that’s impacting the global avian population, as well as some domestic livestock on poultry farms.

Among the sick patients that had to be euthanized at the centre was an owlet, ravens, hawks and geese, added Kelly.

So far, the virus has not been found in songbirds, so Kelly believes it’s still safe to put out bird feeders.

However, five fox kits were recently brought in to the centre and diagnosed with avian flu, which can sometimes skip to other species. Kelly said three of the sick baby foxes died, but two have survived and seem to be improving.

The survivors are now recovering in a quarantine room. Staff who come and go from that chamber have to change their footwear and clothes to ensure they don’t spread the virus, said Kelly.

She advises anyone who’s handled sick birds or animals to wash their hands, although there is a very low risk of human transmissions of this latest strain of the bird flu.

According to information on the website of the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, people should ideally wear gloves when handling infected birds, and should also wear a medical face mask, if available. The CDC advises to avoid contact with wild birds, and not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with their saliva, mucous or feces.

Kelley said people can always call the Medicine River Wildlife Centre if they see an animal they believe to be sick, injured or in distress.

Every spring well-meaning central Albertans bring in baby animals that they feel have been abandoned, or have fallen out of the nest. In most of these cases, the parents are around, but not immediately present, she added.

Kelly recalled one woman called her about a young robin that she saw hopping around on the ground, unable to fly. The woman didn’t believe that the bird was O.K. and should be left alone, so Kelly asked her to search up a robin distress call and play it with the volume turned up on her phone.

“She was standing right next to the babies when she played it, and the parents came blowing out of the tree so fast they almost knocked her on the head,” Kelly recounted.

Another time, a “gentlemen farmer” brought a baby fawn to the centre that he thought had been abandoned. Kelly returned with the farmer and the fawn to the spot where he found the baby animal. They played a fawn distress call and saw the doe come bolting across the field.

Kelly believes staying away from wildlife is a good general rule. A group of fox kits in Innisfail have become such a popular draw that Kelly heard some people are starting to feed them. She warned this could become a death sentence for the foxes since they will become habituated to begging food from humans and will eventually be considered a threat.

Medicine River Wildlife Centre

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First patient in Quebec gets approval from Health Canada for magic mushroom therapy



MONTREAL — When Thomas Hartle indulges in a session of psilocybin treatment, the end-of-life anxiety, distractions and noises associated with his terminal colon cancer go away.

“Before the treatment, it’s like you’re sitting in your car. It’s summer. You have your windows down; you’re stuck in rush-hour traffic; it’s noisy …. It’s unpleasant,” said Hartle, who lives in Saskatchewan.

“Your favourite song is on the radio, but you can’t actually appreciate any of it because all of the other distractions are preventing you from even noticing that the radio is on. After a psilocybin treatment,(it’s like) you’re still in your car, in traffic, but you have the windows up; the air conditioning is on and it’s quiet. It’s just you and the music.”

Hartle, 54, is one of the very few Canadians to have received legal psychedelics psychotherapy for a mental health condition since Health Canada made it easier in January for health-care workers to access psilocybin — the hallucinogenic compound found in some mushrooms.

In Montreal, meanwhile, a pioneering clinic in the emerging field of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is about to become the first health-care facility in Quebec to legally treat depression with psilocybin.

“It’s a privilege to be able to accompany people in the exploration of their psychological distress and to offer something different than conventional treatment such as antidepressants,” Dr. Andrew Bui-Nguyen, of the Mindspace by Numinus clinic, said in a recent interview.

Bui-Nguyen said his clinic received Health Canada’s approval onMay 5 to care for a patient who had undergone several unsuccessful treatments for depression.

“There’s a rigorous screening procedure,” Bui-Nguyen said, adding that Quebec’s health insurance plan doesn’t cover the treatment. “We look at the diagnosis, the medical history, if there’s a risk of addiction, what treatments have already been tried …. There must have been a lot of treatments done beforehand so the application is solid.”

Health Canada on Jan. 5 restored its “Special Access Program” — abolished under former prime minister Stephen Harper in 2013 — allowing health-care experts to request access to restricted drugs that have not yet been authorized for sale in the country.

Before January, people could only access psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy through clinical trials or medical exemptions. Now, licensed experts can file applications on behalf of patients with mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, but for whom conventional treatment has failed.

Health Canada says it has received 15 requests for the use of psilocybin or MDMA — a psychedelic drug with stimulant properties — since resuming the program.

In April, a clinic called Roots To Thrive, in Nanaimo, B.C., became the first health centre in Canada to offer a legal psilocybin group therapy program, in which Hartle took part.

“The therapy part has a capital T in this whole process,” Hartle said. “It isn’t just taking psychedelics. It’s just a tool in the process; the therapy is crucial to getting a good outcome.”

Psychedelic-assisted treatment, Bui-Nguyen explained, requires multiple therapy sessions before and after patients experience the drug. Patients will consume psilocybin while they are supervised by two psychotherapists and remain in the clinic-secured environment for up to six hours.

“It’s not miraculous,” Bui-Nguyen said. “You don’t take psilocybin and that’s it, a psychedelic trip and after the depression is cured — no! The patient has a lot of work to do. But it opens perspectives; it creates new paths in the brain that we aren’t used to taking. The patient then explores new roads to get out of depression.”

In the world’s largest study on psychedelics’ affect on the brain, released in March in the journal Science Advances, lead author Danilo Bzdok said psychedelic drugs might just be the next big thing to improve clinical care of major mental health conditions.

“There’s something like a renaissance, a reawakening of psychedelics,” Bzdok, associate professor with McGill University’s biomedical engineering department, said in a recent interview.

He said the evidence-based benefits are very promising. Patients, he said, say they have experienced up to six months of lasting effects after a single psychedelic-aided therapy session. They have also experienced a reduction of symptoms associated with mental health conditions, Bzdok said, adding that there were fewer side-effects compared to antidepressants.

Mindspace by Numinus CEO Payton Nyquvest said psychedelics have the potential to become a widespread treatment. As Health Canada continues to approve more requests, he hopes the recognition will make the treatment much more accessible.

“We haven’t seen significant innovation in mental health care in probably over 40 years,” Nyquvest said in a recent interview.

“We’re at a time where new and better treatments for mental health are needed now more than ever. No matter what you look at, depression, anxiety, and suicidality … these are all rates that continue to go up with no clear line in terms of how we’re going to address these massive societal issues. Psychedelics represent an opportunity to make a significant impact.”

Hartle’s own experience echoed those hopes. “The improvement in my mental health is so night and day that it would be difficult to say all of the things that it does for me,” he said.

“I still have cancer. I still have difficulty with what it physically does, but there are days when I don’t even think about it. What would you do to have a day where you just feel normal?”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.


Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press

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