Kawartha North Family Health Team

Back to School?

While this is not the first September when I have looked at what back to school may mean to you, this year is unlike any other – if only I  could get a dime for everytime I have said that phrase since March, I could be rich.

It seems unbelievable to think that part of our childrens’ supply list should contain hand sanitizer and face masks, and yet, here we are.  So while times are new to all of us, there are some basic guidelines to protect your children and family and hopefully help you make the school year as stress free as possible, given the circumstances.

Let’s start by recognizing some of the old standards which have NOT changed, but will be more important this year than ever.

  • Establish a routine, including a good night’s sleep and a set schedule to complete homework to reduce stress and anxiety;
  • Clearly outline time tables and expectations so that everyone in the family is on the same page and you can reduce unnecessary power struggles; and
  • Try to keep things fun; acknowledge that this is a new “adventure” for everyone.

So, what has changed?  For the first time ever, in-person attendance is voluntary and an online educational option will be made available.  Check the Trillium Lakelands District School Board website at www.tldsb.ca for more information.  If attending in person, your child will be required to wear a mask indoors, with some exceptions, and to use proper hand hygiene.  As well, their schedule may be staggered from other students so they may not be able to see all of the classmates they are used to.

Students, teachers and staff will be asked to check for symptoms of illness daily.  You can find the school self-screening test at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/ .  If your child has any symptoms or is feeling ill, they will be required to stay at home and may be asked to be tested for COVID by their health care provider before returning to school.  If your child falls ill whilst at school they will be isolated in a safe area and will not be able to use the school bus to return home.

Does all of this sound more than just a little daunting?  Not to fear, with some extra planning, back to school won’t be a nightmare, so make a plan to have fun.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT                                 

An update on how to keep yourselves safe

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point, I think we are all becoming familiar with our “new normal”, but as we face flu season as well as re-opening schools, it seemed worthwhile to provide an update on how to keep yourselves safe and how to access healthcare in your communities when you do need to.

  • To protect us all we should continue to limit meetings indoors, maintain at least six feet between ourselves and others, wear a mask or face covering when necessary, cover our mouth and nose when sneezing and wash, wash, wash!
  • Should you develop symptoms, DO NOT go to your doctor, Nurse Practitioner or the walk-in clinic. Instead access one of the local COVID-19 assessment centres in Lindsay at the Ross Memorial Hospital or in Minden at HHHS hospital.
  • Whilst Kawartha North FHT and other healthcare providers will continue to provide as many appointments as possible by telephone, we have continued to increase the number of in-person appointments where possible. We know that it is sometimes frustrating that we still do not see every one of you in the office, but unfortunately, we have to limit the attendance to lessen risk of exposure between patients.
  • We have now re-introduced our walk in clinics, but to ensure our ability to effectively screen and limit risk of exposure between patients, we have to see patients by appointment only.
    • Clinics in Bobcaygeon are offered at 100 East St. S. Tuesday 4pm-7pm. To book an appointment, call the day of the clinic at 705.738.5575, ext. 27.  Please wait outside until you are called in.
    • Clinics in Fenelon Falls are offered at the Pharmasave Fridays 9:30am-12:30pm. To book an appointment, call the day of the clinic between 8am-10am at 705.887.3535 ext. 21.  Please wait at the Pharmasave back door until you are called in.
    • A mask must be worn at all clinics.
  • We continue to offer lab services by appointment only and unfortunately, the additional time required for cleaning and booking has limited our volumes and increased wait time to have your bloodwork done. If you need an appointment in advance of seeing a specialist or other date specific service, please allow additional time.
  • Lab services for City of Kawartha Lakes FHT patients continue to be offered in Fenelon Falls at 205 Francis ST. E. and Kawartha North FHT patients will again be seen at that location starting on September 8th.
  • Additional information and resources are posted on our website at knfht.ca and updates are available on our FaceBook page – you do not need an account to access this information.

Stay safe and please continue to be patient and support each other during these difficult times. 

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

 

Sleepless in Kawartha…

 

 

 

 

 

As if COVID-19 has not wreaked enough havoc with our mental and physical health, it may also be impacting our sleep!

I have personally never been one to suffer from insomnia, however, the combination of added stress and disrupted routine appears to have taken a toll on our sleep.  It really should not come as a surprise to any of us; after all, lacking routine, working from home and setting our own schedules may tempt us into staying up late for some additional screen time or taking that mid-afternoon nap.  Obviously that alone can disrupt our sleep patterns sufficiently, but then add the extra stress and anxiety about our health, money or loved ones and it is little wonder that sleep neurologists have coined the term COVID-somnia.

But don’t despair, whilst we may not be able to remove the cause for the anxiety at this time, we can mitigate the resulting sleep loss.  I first wrote about the need for good sleep in 2016 and the ways to find it are no different during a Pandemic than they were then, some just require a bit more work.  First and foremost of course is exercise and unfortunately that can be difficult if you were previously participating in team sports, swimming or going to the gym, but rather than simply not participating, come up with new ways to exercise.  Go to the lake instead of the pool, use free weights at home or take up a new exercise altogether like yoga, tai-chi or Pilates.

Unless you exercise to the point of exhaustion, that alone will unfortunately not solve your COVID-somnia, however.  As mentioned, many of us have changed or all but eliminated our daily routine.  Gone may be the days of having to rise at 6:00 to head to the office, so why bother going to bed early, right?  Wrong!  We are meant to follow, at least in part, the natural circadian rhythm of nature.  This is why studies have shown poorer health outcomes among shift workers.  Of course nobody expects you to head to bed at dusk; however, maintaining regular times to retire and get up will improve your ability to sleep.  Just heading to bed at a reasonable hour will not ensure your restful sleep if you do so only to watch TV or read on a screen though.  Establish a wind-down routine that tells your body it is time for bed.  We know to do this for our children, think story time, so why do we fail to do so for ourselves?

Aside from simply not being very good for you, drinking alcohol will also disrupt your sleep.  We often tend to think that it will help relax us and assist in the sleep process, but whilst alcohol may help you fall asleep, you will end up getting a far less restful night’s sleep than you would without that nightcap, so go for herbal tea or warm milk instead.

So don’t lose sleep over COVID, dealing with these stressful times is difficult enough without adding insomnia to the mix.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

What time is it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have long ago stopped being able to tell you what day it is without seriously thinking, let alone what time.  Apparently, I’m not the only one.  Aristotle apparently said that “time is the measure of change” and as one day melds into the next, nothing seems to change.

Anthropologist Felix Ringel studies how humans relate to time, particularly during crises and COVID apparently has impacted more than just our daily interactions with each other, it has also changed how we perceive time.  This is caused, at least in part, by our feeling of being stuck without being able to plan for the future.  As humans, we have an innate need to know what comes next, without this, we feel out of control, but also lose our connection to time.

Interestingly, whilst economic researcher David Wessel surmised that “2020 is a unique leap year – it had 29 days in February, 300 days in March and 5 years in April”, others have expressed a sensation of time moving faster than normal.  In a recent study by psychologist Ruth Ogden she focused on our perception of time during this pandemic and surveying nearly 1000 participants, she found the split is almost 50/50 between those feeling like they can’t believe another week has passed and those that feel like time is dragging on endlessly.

One reason for the split may be whether you are continuing to feel engaged and challenged by your daily activities rather than bored.  Studies have shown that when participants reported feeling bored with a task, they grossly overestimated the amount of time they had been spending on that task. Interestingly, whilst days shut indoors may feel long individually, the lack of memorable activities the brain registers actually make the months seem very short in hindsight.  Yet if you think of events like a maternity leave – while you are away, time flies and you can hardly believe that it is almost up.  Once you return to work, however, it may feel like you have been gone for years.

So regardless of whether your days feel longer or shorter, you are not alone.  So take care of yourselves and try to find something to challenge yourself every day to retain some sense of normalcy as we continue through this crazy time.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

The new normal?

Month four and while the seasons move on, life feels a bit like it’s at a standstill. That being said, tomorrow the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge Health Unit, along with many others, will be moving into Phase II of the reopening. So whilst we are all looking forward to a haircut, what does this really mean?

First and foremost, it is a testament to our perseverance; by adhering to the outlined restrictions, the listed regions have sufficiently flattened the curve to be able to move to the next phase. Of course we are not out of the woods yet. Unfortunately, there is little question that with the re-opening of many businesses and services will come an increased rate of exposure and a likely second wave. So the coming weeks will require a balancing act of adjusting to participation in our pre-COVID activities while continuing to take sufficient precautions to limit spread of infection.

I am certain that you, like me, want to return to going to the store for a “normal” shopping experience, we want to go out and support our local businesses, including restaurants and hair dressers and we long to visit with friends and family. But now more than ever, we must continue to maintain vigilant hand hygiene, practice social distancing and wear face coverings where required to ensure we are able to continue our current trajectory of re-opening.

We may have started to become accustomed to the new realities over the past few months, but these upcoming changes will see us again exploring uncharted territories. As always, if we work together, are patient and kind with each other we will manage to get through these challenges and continue to move forward. So stay informed and follow the provincial and local updates found at our website at www.knfht.ca and most importantly, support each other through this difficult time.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Happiness in difficult times…

As we head into that all-important and significant May long weekend whilst facing week ten of a pandemic, how are you reconciling the two?

While the weather may belie the season, my gardens are telling me that summer is just around the corner; in fact my daylilies would be at an impressive height despite the recent snow had they not been taste-tested by the deer. So as we continue to practice social distancing and other precautions to protect others, we must also take care of our mental wellbeing and practice self-care. Think of the last time you flew on an airplane and listened to the safety instructions; in case of emergency, secure your own oxygen mask first to be able to assist others who may need it.

Personally, having a limited ability to visit and socialize is not much of a change, but as the weather turns I need to feel the dirt between my fingers for my own well-being. Obviously everyone has their own way to keep themselves centered or positive and during abnormal and stressful times it is easy to lose sight of that. So take a moment and think about what truly relaxes you; is it listening to music with a cup of tea, writing a letter to a friend or being physically active? Given the current restrictions, how you achieve this may have changed, but we must all still take a moment to try and find that happy place to look after ourselves as we continue to move forward.

Of course there is no reason to take this opportunity and try a new experience to. Perhaps join an online exercise class or virtual dance lessons. Ever consider starting a book-club? With extra time on our hands, maybe now is your chance to use technology such as Skype or Zoom to start something new.

So whatever your “oxygen mask” might be, remember to access it during these challenging times to maintain your ability to look after yourself and others.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

The Silver Lining

Whilst these certainly continue to be difficult times for us all, I would like to take my own advice and practice some brief moments of gratitude, so let’s look at some of the silver linings.

The picture of a stag above was painted by my father-in-law following a sighting on one of their recent walks. These deer used to be commonly seen in the New Forest area of Hampshire County in Southern England, however, recent increases in human traffic have driven them further into the woods and spotting them has become increasingly rare until COVID-19 restrictions were implemented that is. As I am sure many of you have heard, similar wildlife benefits have been seen in Venice, where shoals of fish can be seen in the canals and in Thailand, where Leatherback turtles are returning to abandoned beaches in record numbers.

As an increased number of us have been forced to work from home, we are re-discovering simple pleasures such as baking bread. Friends, who as busy professionals, have not previously considered this option, are reaching out to me for recipes and guidance as they learn to bake from scratch. Others meanwhile have discovered the joy of connecting with neighbours and community members to exchange seeds or to purchase local eggs and preserves in an effort to limit going to the grocery store.

So whilst we continue to struggle through these changing times, let’s take a moment to focus on some of the good that is happening. The positives will never negate the hardship our friends, families and communities are experiencing, but perhaps they can at least serve to soften the blow.

Please take care of each other and try to find a silver lining.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

What are you missing?

As I talk with friends and family, remotely of course, it is interesting to hear what it is people miss the most during these strange times. Of course I often hear they “miss personal contact, visiting grandchildren, going to the office”, all of which are expected. What I find more interesting are the small things people miss and the most intriguing are the things they never thought they would miss!

A friend who lives in a city condo noted that he misses the sounds. He cannot go out easily as his area is very crowded and whilst he is extremely connected through technology, he commented that he misses sounds – birds, background noise, even the traffic. To each their own, I can’t imagine ever missing traffic.

Personally, I have come to miss my Saturday morning chores, who would have thought? My routine has been to go to the dump as we don’t have garbage pickup, go to the grocery store and then have a poke around Canadian Tire. Fairly mundane at best and downright annoying during a busy week, and yet, it’s what I miss the most.

One friend who is extremely sociable with more activities in a week than I have in a year, misses going out for breakfast, but has not missed the social interactions; while another who never socializes commented she misses interacting with people. I guess the old adages are true – “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and we “don’t know what we have until it’s gone”.

So while it may be a challenge, take a moment to reflect on what it is you miss most and remember to truly appreciate those moments when you are once again able to participate in them, even if they are mundane. And until that time comes, try to reflect on something you continue to be grateful for each and every day. Practicing gratitude allows us to shift our perspective and has positive impacts on both our mood and mental health.

So take care and try to count your blessings, even if they may be hard to see right now.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Staying connected in difficult times….

Well, we are three weeks into the current measures and, speaking personally, every day continues to feel new and strange.

I hope that whilst you continue to practice physical social-distancing to reduce the spread, you are able to remain in contact with loved ones and take this opportunity to reach out to someone who may need someone to check on them. We may not be able to go visit, but that certainly does not mean that we should not practice random acts of kindness or reach out to those who are struggling during this difficult time. This is particularly true for all of our friends and neighbours who live and work at Pinecrest or have loved ones residing there. Our hearts go out to them all along with our appreciation to those who continue to provide the needed care to the residents. If you do have loved ones in a long term care facility or staying in hospital at this time, remember that many institutions have virtual greeting options, so reach out to see whether you can send your best wishes electronically or set up a virtual visit.

Locally, service providers continue to offer many of the services you have grown accustomed to, but of course some have been suspended or altered during this Pandemic, so remember to check before heading out.

For Kawartha North:
• We will not be offering walk in clinic services until May 5th at the earliest,
• Our Bobcaygeon lab is only open on Tuesdays at this time and only to offer repeat tests such as INRs which are booked by appointment,
• We have had to lock our doors to walk in patients, however, rest assured we are open for telephone inquiries and booked appointments, and
• We are using additional precautions to protect you and our staff at this time so if you are attending an appointment, please follows the instructions.

We hope to know within the coming weeks whether these current measures have been effective in limiting the spread, but in the mean time continue to practice frequent and thorough handwashing for at least 20 seconds, cough and sneeze into your elbow or tissues and maintain 6 feet of distance.

If you do require additional information, please visit our website at www.knfht.ca or go to https://covid-19.ontario.ca

We will try our very best to continue to support you at this difficult time and please remember to take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

NO! Not more about the Coronavirus….

I have no doubt that you are just about ready to never hear the words Coronavirus or COVID-19 again, I know I am! Unfortunately these are difficult and unprecedented times and ignoring the facts will not help anyone. Of course there is so much information and it changes so rapidly, that it can be difficult to find out what the facts actually are. Well at time of writing this is what we know and what it may mean for you.

  • COVID-19 continues to spread and we have had reported cases in the HKPR district (Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge) including one presenting at the Ross Memorial Hospital.
  • Whilst any number of precautions may be helpful, first and foremost continue to avoid crowds and public spaces, maintain at least six feet between yourself and others, cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and wash, wash, wash!
  • If you are returning from out of country, self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Should you develop symptoms, DO NOT go to your doctor, Nurse Practitioner or the walk-in clinic. Instead
  • Starting Wednesday, March 18, the RMH COVID-19 Assessment Centre can be reached at 705-328-6217. The hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 8a.m.-4p.m.
  • Avoid unnecessary healthcare visits and if you do need to come see your primary care provider, please call ahead so that we may screen you to ensure the safety of our staff and other patients.
  • As we are unable to effectively screen at our walk-in clinics, we have chosen to suspend services until at least April 14th.
  • To adequately screen before you come in for bloodwork, we will ONLY be seeing Kawartha North FHT patients in our Bobcaygeon location at 100 East St. S.; you must call to book an appointment ahead of time. All City of Kawartha Lakes FHT patients should access lab services at the Fenelon Falls location at 205 Francis St.
  • We have posted links to additional information and resources on our website at www.knfht.ca 
  • If someone in your house is under investigation for COVID-19 or has tested positive, remember to use standard precautions and to avoid sharing household items such as dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding . Laundry may be washed together, but you should wear gloves whilst handling soiled items.
  • Clean regularly touched surfaces such as toilets, sink tap handles, doorknobs and light switches with disinfectants such as a solution of 1 cup bleach per 1 gallon of water.
  • Be cautious when emptying wastebaskets and the like to avoid touching used tissues.

We will try our very best to continue to support you at this difficult time and please remember to take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT