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Using technology to fight COVID-19

The right tools for the job
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Revera was the first company in the Canadian senior living sector to appoint a Chief Medical Officer. In her blog series, Dr. Rhonda Collins offers helpful advice for seniors to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

As in any profession, you need the right tools for the job. When it comes to our fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic it’s no different. Arming ourselves with the tools needed to best defend ourselves and help stop the spread of the virus is crucial to winning this fight.

From the onset of the pandemic, testing has been a major priority. We needed to quickly increase the capacity for testing so that epidemiologists and health care workers had the most accurate and up-to-date data so they could advise the public and respond appropriately. Testing has increased significantly, however, more is always better when we’re dealing with the spread of a virus that we still don’t fully understand.
“We need to use all tools at our disposal to keep everyone safe and healthy as researchers work diligently to discover an effective vaccine.”
Another important element is our ability to conduct contact tracing when infections occur. We’ve seen how quickly the virus can spread and infect an unknowing population. That’s why many organizations, including restaurants and fitness facilities, now ask you to provide your name and phone number when you visit. Contact tracing helps us to diagnose people who may have COVID-19 sooner, which also helps to prevent the virus from spreading further.

You may have heard that the Canadian government released a smartphone app that helps notify people who may have come into contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive. The app uses Bluetooth technology in the phone to locate nearby phones. If someone tests positive and they have the app, they can update their status and a notification will be sent to others who came into contact with them in the past 14 days. Because the app doesn’t use your phone’s GPS it doesn’t track your location, so privacy is always maintained. This is one innovative way for us to help protect each other and stop the spread of COVID-19.

As we approach the fall, we must remember that the flu season is just around the corner. It’s important for people to get their flu shot every year, but this year it’s even more important. You may have heard the term “twindemic” being used recently. There is great concern that this year’s typical flu season could be worsened as we continue to battle COVID-19. Health care networks and systems could be stretched to the breaking point as they deal with two viruses. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting your flu shot once it becomes available to protect yourself and others from overtaxing our already heavily burdened health care workers and protect those who are most vulnerable in our communities.

I said in a previous blog that the fight against COVID-19 is a marathon and not a sprint. We need to use all tools at our disposal to keep everyone safe and healthy as researchers work diligently to discover an effective vaccine. Until one is available, we need to take every precaution we can. So, wear a mask, wash your hands, check your physical distance, get tested if you’re feeling unwell and showing symptoms of COVID-19, and download the contact tracing app. In the fight against this virus, we need all the help, and information, we can get.
Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer of Revera
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Dr. Rhonda Collins brings passion and expertise in memory care, dementia, falls prevention and clinical quality improvement to the role of Revera’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Collins is a family physician with a certificate of added competence in Care of the Elderly from the College of Family Physicians of Canada.