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P.E.I.'s QEH equipped to battle coronavirus crisis: disaster medicine specialist

Dr. Trevor Jain, an emergency physician at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown, says nurses and doctors are regularly subjected to verbal and physical abuse by patients, including people under arrest who are brought in for medical clearance.
Dr. Trevor Jain, an emergency physician at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown, says the hospital is equipped to handle the coronavirus pandemic. - SaltWire file photo


Dr. Trevor Jain says the emergency department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is well prepapred for the coronavirus crisis as it continues to intensify.

Canada’s chief public health officer Theresa Tam said Sunday Canada is seeing a surge in coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) hospitalizations, intensive-care admissions and deaths.

However, none of the 18 cases of COVID-19 on P.E.I. have required hospitalization or resulted in death.

That relatively good fortune, of course, could change at any time.

Jain said if and when coronavirus patients start streaming into the QEH, the province’s main referral hospital is ready to take charge under the leadership of the QEH Emergency Operations Centre.

“Our aim as the provincial hospital is to provide a COVID-19 response while maintaining essential emergency services,’’ said Jain, a disaster medicine specialist and an emergency department physician at the QEH.

“We’re still looking after anybody that feels they are having an emergency.’’

Jain said the processes and procedures at the hospital have been dramatically modified to help tackle how this global health crisis may play out in Prince Edward Island.

“The QEH is in a good place and has a solid plan that is evolving to look after patients that require hospitalization,’’ he said.

He lauds everyone from cleaners to nurses for working together as a strong team in an abnormal environment some are not familiar with.

Dr. Spencer Brown, a physician with the QEH emergency department, prepares to enter the respiratory treatment unit, where he gowns up including gloves and face shield.
Dr. Spencer Brown, a physician with the QEH emergency department, prepares to enter the respiratory treatment unit, where he gowns up including gloves and face shield.

Jain has certainly been tasked many times with being calm under immense pressure in a career that has seen him deployed to multiple austere locations to provide medical support to both armed conflicts and humanitarian operations. He served as pathology operations officer for the Swissair 111 crash off Peggy’s Cove on Sept. 2, 1998, that claimed the lives of all 229 people on board.

Jain, though, is quick to deflect attention from his impressive past. He is merely part of a team – one he holds in high regard.

“Everybody is pitching in,’’ he said.

“There are so many people that make the hospital function. They should be absolutely commended.’’

Jain expressed gratitude to the public for using the emergency department “appropriately’’ rather than frivolously.

Islanders experiencing symptoms (cough, fever or shortness of breath) within 14 days of travel should call 811 to be screened and, if necessary, directed for testing. Those requiring immediate medical attention should call 911.

For those whot do end up coming to the emergency department, Jain said the hospital is ready.

“We’re here, we’re inspired,’’ he said.

“We want Islanders to know that it is not just lip service. We take their care very seriously and we are going to be here for them.’’

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