Written by: Bernadette Lettner, Registered Nurse
Since November, 2020, the Covid Resource Team (CRT) has been working to support people who test positive for Covid-19. Comprised of nurses, health promoters, social workers, case managers, counsellors, project coordinators, drivers and the infectious disease team at Michael Garron Hospital, the CRT links hospital-based testing to community agencies and supports. Through these links, we can connect with and support people by offering practical resources to manage the unequal burden of Covid-19 infection in Toronto.
The integrated web of people and resources that hold up, and hold together, communities is very apparent when doing this work. Relationships and resources are strained by the physical separation that happens when people must remain at home in isolation or quarantine, but the many places we turn to for help, comfort and care are also revealed.
Through regular phone calls, the CRT provides symptom management, personal protective equipment and grocery deliveries, financial support, counselling, settlement services and a wide array of other services. To be able to do this work, the CRT has developed relationships with many community organizations, including East End Community Health Centre, The Neighbourhood Organization, Health Access Thorncliffe Park, Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities, and the East Effort Fund. Between November 2, 2020 and March 31, 2021, over 2,695 people were helped and new referrals are accepted daily.
We have seen first-hand that high vaccination rates have an impact. Many long term care, shelter, and group home residents in east Toronto have received at least a first dose of vaccine and have avoided the outbreak conditions seen in so many areas of the city. Other areas have seen the emergence of pop-up vaccine clinics, specifically designed to bring vaccination to areas with the highest rates of community transmission. Every single vaccination makes an impact – perhaps the biggest impact we can make right now.
Throughout the vaccine rollout, we will continue to support people who contract Covid-19, and ensure that we move towards health together. We started with a small team and a big vision, and it has been incredible to see how the CRT has grown and evolved. The connection and mutual support that has developed as a result of listening and responding to community needs will remain strong, and the ripples of these care-filled connections will carry us through this wave and beyond.