Vaccine rollout in Lambton heats up while province provides free education for 8,000 potential PSWs

436
Kristine Wook Photo

While Premier Doug Ford was announcing a new plan to train PSWs and lauding the successful vaccine rollout for all staff and residents of long term care, Lambton Public Health officials were busy putting needles in the arms of seniors and staff in retirement and long term care homes.

Lambton’s Medical officer of health, Dr. Sudit Ranade, says the 6,000 vaccines which have be shipped to Lambton last week are now being administered. About 2,000 will be given to workers involved in direct care at Bluewater Health.

Public health workers and mobile clinics are also busy administering the vaccine.

“Later this week, we’ll be getting more of the Moderna, and we’ll circle back to to long term care homes and retirement homes and elder care homes where they had the first dose of Moderna to have the second dose,” says Ranade.

He adds they’ll be “circulating to essential care givers and staff to make sure they get immunized because they were the very first priority identified by the province and at the time we immunized the residents, we did not have enough vaccine to immunize the staff and the essential care givers; now we do”

That directly contradicted what the premier said just minutes earlier while announcing a new program to attract PSWs.

“Every residents and staff person in everyone of our long term care homes who wanted one (vaccine) has received one,” said Ford.

The province announced Wednesday those over 80 would start getting the vaccine March 15. A month later, those over 75 will be next in line. Those over 70 will be the first week in May and those over 65, the first week of June.

A province-wide hotline where people can book an appointment for their vaccine should be up and running March 15.

When asked if that would be too late, Lambton’s MOH didn’t seem fazed.

“We’re not letting the booking system stop us from delivering immunizations,” he says.

“Right now, we’re not at the stage where we have enough vaccine to start delivering to the over 80s anyway. What we’re doing is using our existing network to try to get to to get to the people deemed eligible by the province,” Ranade adds.

“When they get the booking system working we’ll work with it to have that population access that.”

Ford also unveiled a plan to help ease the shortage of personal support workers in long term care Wednesday.

The government will spend $115 million to train up to 8,200 new PSWs for Ontario’s health and long term care sectors. All public colleges will offer a six month program to accredit PSWs. Six thousand students will learn tuition free.

Students will take three months of coursework and get experience in a clinical setting. After that, the final three months will be paid onsite training in a long term care home or a home and community care environment.

Applications will be accepted in March.

“This inspiring program will make a real difference to those who are unemployed and struggling. It will offer a helping hand to those who are looking for meaningful, rewarding work by training over 8,000 new skilled workers who can support and care for our most vulnerable,” said Labour Minister Monte McNaughton.