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Dr. Jeya Nadarajah, Infection Prevention and Control, Physician Lead at MSH

In the hallways of Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH), now empty of visitors, it takes masked frontline staff a moment to recognize each other. They exchange a quick smile or a few light-hearted words before hurrying on their way. In the difficult days of COVID-19, while most of us are sheltering at home, our amazing health care professionals have a job to do – caring for patients suffering with COVID-19 and providing all patients with expert, compassionate care.

“Our frontline staff have made personal sacrifices and every shift they risk their own safety to ensure our community members have full access to the health care they need,” says Dr. Jeya Nadarajah, Infection Prevention and Control, Physician Lead at MSH. “The community should be proud of them.”

MSH was quick to act when it became apparent Ontario would soon be facing an unprecedented health care crisis. In fact, the first steps were taken back in early January when many of us had just started hearing about COVID-19 and its devastating impact in China.

“The global and local public health mandate to screen for COVID-19 was released on January 3 at 3 p.m.,” Dr. Nadarajah recalls. “And by 5 p.m. that same day we had put in protocols to immediately screen people at risk from COVID-19.”

Since then MSH has put many processes in place to care for patients, protect our frontline staff and keep our community safe.

In response to the increase in COVID-19 cases in our region, we opened a COVID-19 Assessment Centre on March 18. The Assessment Centre provides screening, assessment and testing for individuals in Markham, Stouffville, Uxbridge and surrounding areas.

The next day, we initiated a no visitor policy at our hospital. It was a difficult decision but, as
Dr. Nadarajah says, “necessary to ensure we are protecting our vulnerable patient population.”

Our website: msh.on.ca, now has a helpful COVID-19 assessment tool. It also includes the latest information regarding the number of positive cases being cared for in hospital, the number under investigation and the total number of patients who have been tested.

We’ve re-deployed some staff to critical areas and welcomed the help of others. Like hundreds of other Canadian health professionals, Dr. Jane Philpott has returned to the front line, helping the dedicated team at the MSH COVID-19 Assessment Centre.

“What matters most is that MSH always puts our patients and our community first,” says Dr. Nadarajah. “This is reflected in how we’ve set up our pandemic protocols to best serve our community during this state of emergency. From the Assessment Centre to extra support for our patients whose families and loved ones can’t be with them during this time, we are here to care for the community.”

On March 30, many frontline staff were moved to tears by an incredible show of support and gratitude by the community. An appreciation rally saw people driving by in cars honking and holding signs showing support and offering thanks to our health care heroes on the front line.

We are so grateful for the support from our community, including local businesses and organizations making in-kind donations of personal protective equipment to keep our health care providers safe. And we are so thankful to you – our donors – who have continued to make generous donations to help us combat COVID-19 during this exceedingly challenging time.

In this time of crisis our hospital and community have come together and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Read more stories from our Spring 2020 Newsletter.