The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has completed a unique, community created, initiative to help fight the spread of COVID-19 in one of the hardest hit areas of the province.
The strategy, coordinated with communities in and around La Loche, targeted households as part of an initiative known as door-to-door active-case finding. Under the plan, SHA staff worked closely with community leaders to develop the strategy to visit each house and determine if there was anyone inside exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. As part of the strategy, the mobile teams also brought along information about mental health and other community supports to share with the households.
This intake will help to inform community needs assessment and community feedback to inform health planning and build sustained health capacity in La Loche on medium and long term basis.
The extensive preparation for the initiative was a key component to its success, according to Dr. Rim Zayed, the Medical Health Officer for the area. It was a multi-faceted approach that required the proper number of trained staff working with local SHA employees to do the door-to-door visits, coordination with the Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory to ensure that swabs could be shipped and tested as quickly as possible, and aggressive contact tracing to identify close contacts of new cases.
Given the close proximity of other communities, the SHA also targeted small centres nearby and coordinated its efforts with the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority, who were doing similar work on nearby First Nations. Over 800 houses were visited during door-to-door active-case finding, with anywhere between 40 to 50 tests done each day. Dr. Zayed believes that not only was the effort successful in identifying and helping curb the spread of COVID-19 in the area, but by working so closely with the community leaders for this unprecedented initiative, she believes that a new level of trust has been built which will have benefits in the future as the groups work together to achieve better health outcomes for the residents of the area.
The covid-19 crisis has created this opportunity to identify gaps and areas of improvement. A taskforce initiative is proposed where all the stakeholders can collaboratively work together to achieve a sustained community wellbeing and engagement.
Trevor Tessier, the Director of Primary Health Care for the Northwest/North, donning PPE during a visit to La Loche.