Podcast: Interior Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Karin Goodison on Omicron’s early rise in Revelstoke and what’s happening now

Revelstoke Mountaineer podcast: Interior Health Medical Health Officer, Dr. Karin Goodison, discussed the rise of the Omicron wave in Revelstoke over the past three weeks, what's happening now with boosters, rapid tests, the care home outbreak, Interior Health communications during outbreaks, and the outlook for businesses that have been mandated closed.

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Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke pictured in January 2022. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

Interior Health says the first signs of the rapid rise of the Omicron variant in Revelstoke came on Dec. 15, 2021, when demand for COVID-19 tests began to spike at Queen Victoria Hospital.

A few days later, testing was overwhelmed and remains fully booked to this day.

In the latest epi-week count, Revelstoke recorded 257 new cases, despite limited testing and restrictions on testing to those with symptoms. B.C. officials say the actual rate is 4-5 times higher, meaning about 1,000-1,300 cases in the weekly period.

In our latest podcast, we speak with Dr. Karin Goodison, a Medical Health Officer for Interior Health whose areas of responsibility include the North Okanagan and the Kootenay Boundary.

We spoke with Dr. Goodison for an update. To listen, see the SoundCloud link below, and also see our topics of conversation below the embedded podcast.

Topics in the interview:

-What is the situation at Mt. Cartier Court, a residential care facility where an outbreak has been declared?

-What is Interior Health doing to support residents there who now have limited access to visitors?

-On Dec. 23, Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) issued a statement to local media about the infection situation among staff. That statement carried the logo of RMR and Interior Health. Why is the health authority relying on a private business to communicate the situation, and why didn’t Interior Health communicate directly through its communication channels about the early rise of Omicron in Revelstoke?

-What is the current situation with availability of rapid tests in Revelstoke, particularly for those who need them to get back to work at a time when provincial authorities are telling businesses to prepare for up to a third of staff away sick?

-What is Interior Health doing to help prioritize boosters for front-line workers, such as teachers, servers, and others who work indoors in higher risk environments?

-Dr. Goodison says that Omicron arose in Revelstoke early. She said Interior Health works with the City of Revelstoke to communicate the situation with the community, yet we question if there has been any communication from the city on the COVID-19 situation in the past three weeks since the first signs of the outbreak were noticed through testing.

-What is the outlook in 2022 for businesses that have been mandated shut during this wave and ones in the past?

-What has the local response been to the call for volunteers to help at vaccination clinics?

-What can residents do to take the burden off of frontline health care workers?