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New Recruits Provide Comfort During Times of Emergency

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Pictured from left to right: Phil Hauser, Pharmacist and President Hauser's Pharmacy & Home Healthcare with Haldimand County Paramedic Services Paramedics Bryan Smith, Tanya Opatovsky and Eric Diamanti

Dunnville, On. - When Haldimand County Paramedic Services head out on a response, they have some extra help to call into action. From a recent collaboration with Hauser's Pharmacy and Home Healthcare more than 500 plush teddy bears have become standard equipment on local emergency service vehicles, used to provide comfort to children who are affected in times of crisis.


"It only makes sense to ensure children are taken care of, nurtured, made to feel comfortable when they are exposed to traumatic situations and to help turn a stressful situation a little more comforting and what better way to make a child smile with something as teddy bear to hold?" added Phil Hauser, Pharmacist and President of Hauser's Pharmacy and Home Healthcare.


The bears were recently presented to Haldimand County Paramedic Services Deputy Chiefs, Dan Williston and Joe Pacheo from Hauser. Williston added "We're so happy to have them, giving a child a cute cuddly bear will take them from high stress, to a better comfort level, it makes it easier for the Paramedics and the patient. We're in a situation that's very stressful for a child and to give them something that's warm and friendly, it most likely will calm them down enough for us to be able to deal with the situation."


Can a teddy bear really make that much of a difference? Absolutely! "Putting a smile on a child's face in a stressful emergency is one of our top priorities, despite the circumstances, it's a way for them to be comforted, it's something they can hold on to, that may make them feel safer." Pacheo said.


Once the physical and medical needs have been met by Paramedics, something as simple as a teddy bear can bring profound comfort to a child who is going through a very traumatic experience, additionally Paramedics can gift the bear with any patient that they believe would benefit from its positive effect. Williston, added, 'The Paramedic Service appreciates the collaboration of community members like Phil Hauser who without hesitation decided this comforting gesture was important to the well-being of children who are found in these difficult situations.


The plush bears are definitely one positive step the Paramedic Service are making any emergency a little bit easier for children.

Haldimand-Norfolk pushing to vaccinate essential workers as COVID-19 cases skew younger

Pictured: Phil Hauser, Pharmacist and President Hauser's Pharmacy & Home Healthcare, his team of Pharmacists at select Hauser's Pharmacy locations have already been registering those in the community looking to get their Covid-19 Vaccines and have begun administering the vaccine in Dunnville, Ontario.

While COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Hamilton and Toronto struggle to fill hundreds of appointments, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is reporting virtually perfect attendance at its three clinics.

“We’ve had no empty appointments,” said the head of the vaccine task force, Norfolk EMS chief Sarah Page.

Anyone who cancelled their appointment due to illness was replaced by someone on a wait list, while Page said health-care workers have consistently been able to stretch the supply by drawing six doses from a five-dose vial.

“We’ve wasted less than 0.1 per cent of any dosage,” Page said. “There has been no wastage where we have taken a needle and thrown it in a sharps container not used.”

As of Wednesday, Haldimand-Norfolk had received 32,134 doses of vaccine and administered 21,979 at clinics in the Vittoria community centre, Cayuga arena, and Norfolk General Hospital. A clinic at the Delhi arena is set to open on Friday.

“We are increasing capacity at all clinics to be able to ramp up to an estimated 5,000 vaccines a week,” Page said. “We have almost 5,000 booked for this week alone.” Residents eager to be vaccinated are inundating the health unit’s call centre and online booking system. “The hotline has been overloaded. We’re getting over 1,000 calls or emails a day,” Page said. “So we’re working diligently to catch up, and the online scheduling form is helping.”


The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are available at the clinics, while four pharmacies — Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart in Simcoe, and Hauser’s Pharmacy in Dunnville and Hagersville — are now authorized to give out the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Page said the health unit is looking at bringing in retired staff members, paramedics and qualified community volunteers to lend a hand. There is a sense of urgency to get needles into arms as the local case count rises — there were 118 active cases on Wednesday — and more young people fall ill. “We are seeing an increase in not only the number, but the proportion of cases of COVID in our young population from 18 to 40, which is concerning,” Page said. Health unit epidemiologist Dr. Kate Bishop-Williams says COVID-19 variants of concern — in particular the U.K. variant — make up a growing percentage of cases. “We are certainly watching them closely here,” she said, adding that “35 to 40” variant cases have been confirmed, but “more than half” of suspected variant cases are still under investigation. Bishop-Williams said the variants have changed the pandemic in that more people who test positive are showing symptoms for a longer period of time, which increases the likelihood of the virus spreading.

Vaccinating the oldest residents has helped keep the virus at bay among 70- to 90-year-olds, including virtually eliminating COVID-19 from local long-term-care homes.

But the health unit is now seeing an increase in new cases “across all demographics below the age brackets where we’re providing vaccination,” including school-age children, Bishop-Williams said. That led the task force to petition the province for a new approach. “Our essential workers who cannot work from home — be that school teachers, truck drivers, grocery store employees, (people) like that who are being exposed day-to-day — is where we’re seeing a great number of cases,” Page said. “So there has been a push to see if we can move the essential workers component of Phase 2 to an earlier stage, because currently it’s not slated to start until mid to end of May.”


Premier Doug Ford said on Tuesday the province would give local health units “flexibility” to adjust the rollout, but Page said at this point every step in the rollout must be approved by the Ministry of Health.

To encourage essential workers to get the vaccine, the health unit recommends employers give staff paid time off to go to a clinic.

“But we have been very clear with employers across the two counties that they are not able to enforce that their staff receive vaccine,” Bishop-Williams said. Page said vaccine hesitancy has not been a major issue thus far, which she credits to a concerted effort to get “valid, research-based information” out to the public. “That may change with some of our younger populations, as there tends to be more of a focus on social media-driven information,” she said.

“We want to get the message out to everyone that getting vaccinated — whether that’s Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca — is safe, and it provides better protections against the signs and symptoms of COVID that will keep you out of the hospital and out of the morgue.”


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