The newly-formed Burlington COVID-19 Task Force convened by teleconference on Tuesday (April 7) afternoon for our first meeting.
I was thrilled with the response to this call for action and the level of interest and enthusiasm seen from each group I reached out to. Almost 50 leaders from organizations across Burlington came together to unite in our efforts to get through the COVID-19 health crisis together.
While countless conversations and collaboration had already been happening for many weeks, this forum allowed us all to meet in one place to ensure we are aligned in our work and aware of one another’s needs and capabilities. This was an invaluable way to share information with each other in a timely manner for the benefit of our community.
You can see the full list of participants, meeting minutes and action items on the City’s website — or click here: Burlington COVID-19 Task Force Meeting April 7 – Action Items and Meeting Minutes.
Our discussion began with Joseph Brant Hospital President & CEO Eric Vandewall giving a high level update of what is happening at the hospital. Some highlights include:
- active screening has been implemented along with reduced access to the hospital for visitors to keep staff and patients safe;
- they have eliminated elective clinics and elective surgeries to create as much space as possible for COVID-19 patients/surge;
- an assessment centre has been implemented for testing;
- they are discharging as many patients as possible who can be cared for in an alternative setting to reduce their risk of exposure;
- the hospital is now sitting at 68% occupancy and is normally at 100% or more at this time of year;
- their surge plan includes the hospital itself including ICU and acute care capacity + offsite options that are being looked at for non-COVID-19 patients;
- they will have about 89 beds in the new temporary structure called the Pandemic Response Unit (PRU), which is on track to be completed by this Friday;
- they are still in need of help with staffing and transportation, gift cards for staff rather than actual food/drink, and volunteers;
- their biggest need is that they are looking for more personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gowns, gloves, etc.
Eric also emphasized the growing need to keep people healthy at home, especially the elderly and the vulnerable. We want to continue to organize as a community to provide volunteer services that can connect them with groceries, medications, and conversation to avoid the feeling of social isolation.
Discussions and dialogue then took place between participants with many offering support to the hospital, from the Halton District School Boar (HDSB) / Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) noting the work they are doing to help redeploy caretaking staff and potentially using school buses to help transport staff and supplies if needed and the City of Burlington looking at support via accessible transit and other personnel.
Some notable highlights include:
- COVID-19 fundraising initiatives being done by the Burlington Foundation, the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation, and the United Way of Halton & Hamilton to help frontline workers and those in need in our community
- Business supports being coordinated by TEAM Burlington including virtual business forums, and all the great work being done by local businesses to take advantage of the provincial and federal supports to retool manufacturing operations towards making personal protective equipment for frontline workers
- The availability of our local federal and provincial leaders to support individuals and businesses with any help they can
- Many offers of help from community and religious organizations to provide volunteers
- The great work being done by the Burlington Food Bank and Food For Life including a partnership with NUVO Taste Kitchen who is helping make 2000 liters of soup each week
- The Burlington Public Library sending their 3D printers to help make face shields for frontline workers and they have a great online directory of community supports
- This Friday’s upcoming Front Line Porch Clap to honour our frontline workers again
- Halton Regional Police Service is staffed and ready to respond to the many calls they are receiving about enforcement of the Province’s Emergency Orders and they will partner with our by-law team on that as well as the new physical distancing bylaw passed by the City of Burlington
- ROCK (Reach Out Centre for Kids) mentioned their 24/7 crisis line people can call: 905-878-9785 for child/youth/family mental health support
- The Canadian Armed Forces is mobilizing to support communities and we have a liaison officer to work with to help us there
Dr. Dale Kalina of Joseph Brant Hospital continued to stress the need for physical distancing messaging, and that people are more likely to follow that advice if it comes from someone they know so asked everyone to please keep reaching out to their networks with that message.
The call truly emphasized how much our community leaders and organizations are already doing to support everyone in our city at this challenging time, and how willing they are to help one another. We are fortunate to have so many passionate and caring people in Burlington, and it makes me prouder than ever to live in this amazing city.
Watch for more information about future meetings as we continue to work together through this crisis and do our best to keep the people of Burlington healthy and safe.
Please see below for ways you can offer support, or request support, during this challenging time:
MAKE A DONATION:
- United Way Halton & Hamilton
- UWHH: has established the COVID-19 Emergency Fund to help support our community’s most vulnerable in this challenging time. The Fund is intended to provide monetary support to community-based agencies in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, who are supporting individuals and families experiencing poverty, isolation, and other difficult realities.
- United Way of Halton & Hamilton
- For agencies who wish to apply – click here.
- Joseph Brant Hospital
- Critical funds are required now to respond quickly to fast-evolving needs as the impact of this virus grows. Your donation will support the hospital and our staff as they respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. There are several initiatives in support of Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation to raise funds.
- Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation — email: COVIDdonations@josephbranthospital.ca.
- Burlington Public Library
- There are multiple opportunities available to volunteer, and the Burlington Public Library has created a comprehensive list of supports available, as well as volunteer opportunities. If an initiative you know about isn’t listed, please contact BPL to add it:
- Burlington Public Library Community Help Directory
APPLY FOR A GRANT
- Burlington Foundation
- Burlington Foundation with generous support from Pioneer Energy, has established the Covid-19 Pandemic Response Fund with an initial $100,000 commitment. This emergency fund will provide grants to qualified organizations supporting community members most impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, expanding local capacity to address the severe impacts of the pandemic.
- Pandemic Response Grants will be provided to local agencies on the front-line that are serving high need, vulnerable people and families including those experiencing food insecurity, isolated seniors, childcare supports, disability, mental health and safe housing.
- If you have any questions regarding eligibility, please contact us at 905-639-0744 x222.
- Burlington Foundation
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES & LINKS:
— Mayor Marianne Meed Ward
PLEASE NOTE: To stay updated on what the City of Burlington is doing regarding COVID-19, please visit the dedicated pages burlington.ca/coronavirus (and subscribe) and bit.ly/mayormeedwardCOVID19updates, and our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page — bit.ly/COVID19BurlingtonFAQ that are updated as new information becomes available.
A Burlington COVID-19 Task Force has been created to help support our community through this unprecedented emergency — updates will be provided at burlington.ca/COVID19taskforce.
To report an incident of non-compliance with provincial emergency orders, please contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID-19 Hotline: 905-825-4722.
HELPFUL RESOURCES & RELATED LINKS:
- Community questions and requests regarding City of Burlington services can be directed to Service Burlington by phone at 903-335-7777, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online.
- PLEASE NOTE: Service Burlington will be closed from Friday (April 10) to Monday (April 13) for the Easter holiday long weekend and will be reopened on Tuesday (April 14).
- For further COVID-19 information, including where to get tested, please visit Halton Region Public Health halton.ca/coronavirus
- Residents can stay informed at burlington.ca/coronavirus as well as on our social media channels: @cityburlington on Twitter and facebook.com/cityburlington
- Questions about the cancellation of Recreation programs can be directed to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-335-7738
- City of Burlington: www.burlington.ca/coronavirus
- Halton Region: www.halton.ca/coronavirus
- Government of Ontario: www.ontario.ca/coronavirus
- Government of Canada: www.canada.ca/coronavirus
- World Health Organization: www.who.int
- Joseph Brant Hospital: josephbranthospital.ca/covid-19
- Chamber of Commerce Business Supports: burlingtonchamber.com/team-burl-supporting-burl-business-during-covid-19/
*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist