The Toronto Sun has another one of the “such and such a city/state/country isn’t prepared for a pandemic” stories. The judgment comes from the 2007 Auditor General of Ontario’s annual report. Yawn. Like it’s so easy to know what to do, right? Maybe not. So the Report has some recommendations:
The report says the ministry “does not have assurance that all members of the health system knew what to do in planning for and during a pandemic.”
As a result, the report lists recommendations that would serve to help prepare Ontario for such a catastrophic flu bug. The recommendations include, among other things, regularly updating the Ontario Health Plan For An Influenza Pandemic, requiring local public health officers to arrange for non-hospital quarantine sites, and filling the “large number of vacancies” of medical officers of health in provincial public health offices. (Toronto Sun)
I doubt health officials don’t know that there will be a problem with absenteeism. The question is what do do about it. There are a lot of possibilities, but “filling the large number of vacancies” doesn’t seem like one of them. What are they supposed to do? Go out an hire a bunch of non-existent doctors, nurses and other health care workers?
The “recommendation” I like the best, though, is “requiring local public health officers to arrange for non-hospital quarantine sites.” What exactly does this mean? That confinement sites will be established for possibly exposed but not yet sick people? Like maybe family members of the sick? Then who will take care of the sick family member? Maybe they don’t mean quarantine at all, but the frequently confused notion of “isolation,” segregating the already sick. But in a pandemic, with people getting sick all over, that’s not going to halt spread. So maybe they are talking about surge capacity. But then don’t use the loaded word quarantine when you mean something entirely different.
No one thinks any locality is fully prepared to face a true pandemic of influenza. It’s not wrong to remind officials, even if they already know it. But you’d think the criticism would be more constructive, better informed and more likely to achieve results.
Or maybe you wouldn’t. No one audits the auditors.