Board of Health Meeting Summary – January

Written by Comms Team, January 16, 2023

January 11, 2023

Elections & Committee Appointments

The Board of Health voted to appoint Councillor Kathryn Wilson as Chairperson and Mr. Dan Moloney as Vice-Chairperson for the Board of Health in 2023. The Board of Health also approved appointments for the following committees: Indigenous Health Advisory Circle, Governance Committee, and Stewardship Committee.

Improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in Indoor Public Settings

Dr. Thomas Piggott, Medical Officer of Health, shared findings from a report prepared by the Environmental Health team detailing recommendations to Improve Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), in particular in the context of COVID-19. The report provided evidence concerning the importance of improving IAQ to protect against a range of health conditions, including cancers, asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and poor cognitive function. Dr. Piggott reviewed how our understanding of COVID-19 has evolved over the course of the pandemic. More notably, COVID-19 is now recognized as an airborne virus that does not spread as easily through contact with contaminated services. This has broadened our understanding of the need to use multiple layers of prevention to reduce the risk of disease transmission. Alongside vaccines and masks, evidence increasingly shows the role of ventilation as a protective factor against the disease. Dr. Piggott highlighted Peterborough Public Health’s ongoing leadership to support a public health strategy for improving IAQ. These efforts include PPH’s status as the first health authority in the world to collaborate on a lending program for indoor CO2 monitors, a new policy on air quality monitoring to protect staff and clients in the health unit’s facility, and a public report to inform broader sector advocacy on IAQ. The Board of Health received the report and endorsed recommendations to write to all levels of government and liaise across sectors to outline potential strategies to improve IAQ.

Opioid-Related Harms Update 

Hallie Atter, Acting Director of Health Promotion, provided a routine update about drug poisonings based on data included on Peterborough Public Health’s Opioid Harms Data Portal.  Atter noted that Paramedic Calls for Service declined slightly in 2022 compared to 2021, with men and residents between the ages of 25-44 continuing to account for the largest number of calls. In 2022, there were 539 Emergency Department visits due to suspected drug poisoning. More than half of these visits involved men and people between the ages of 25-44. Furthermore, nearly half of all visits in the previous year occurred between the hours of 4:00pm and 12:00am. Unfortunately, the region continues to see a high rate of drug poisoning deaths, with an average of 1 death every 7 days.

COVID-19 and Respiratory Viruses Update

Donna Churipuy, Director of Health Protection, provided an update on the status of respiratory viruses in the community. On Wednesday, January 11, the COVID-19 and Respiratory Virus Risk Index moved to moderate risk after a week of being high risk. This change is largely due to a decrease in influenza cases. However, Churipuy noted that COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations have increased moderately. Fortunately, Emergency Department visits and hospital admissions for other respiratory diseases have decreased over the previous week, and there have been no deaths due to COVID-19 in the Peterborough Public Health region between January 1 and January 11. Churipuy also explained that vaccination clinics are between 55-75% booked, and appointment rates are lowest among children under 5 and between the ages of 5-11. Walk-in clinics have been added for all ages to increase accessibility; however, local pharmacies are now delivering the majority of vaccinations.