Here's what Ontario's Emergency Medical Assistance Team has been doing in Essex County

Two weeks ago, Ontario's Emergency Medical Assistance Team arrived in Essex County as part of a provincial response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak on farms in our region. Here's what they've been doing.

Team deployed July 17 designed to give 'extra medical assistance in times of emergencies'

Patrick Auger, incident commander for the province's Emergency Medical Assistance Team, says they have been overseeing self-isolation sites for the many agricultural workers who have tested positive or been exposed to COVID-19 in Essex County. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Two weeks ago, Ontario's Emergency Medical Assistance Team (EMAT) arrived in Essex County as part of a provincial response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak on farms in our region.

When the team was deployed, a spokesperson for the Ministry of health said incident management experts, a medical director, and a team which could change in size "to meet the needs of the situation" were on site to support and co-ordinate the health sector in Windsor-Essex. 

After two to three weeks, they said they would revisit their deployment plans. 

Patrick Auger, the team's incident commander, said the group made up of physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and other frontline workers are here to provide "extra medical assistance in times of emergencies."

"The first thing we started is we put in place an incident command post," said Auger. "One of the things we practice is IMS or and incident management framework, developing incident action plan. This is an incredibly complicated deployment and set of circumstances down here."

Auger said about 16 people on the team are in Essex County, and are working to improve the flow of information among the many local and government partners in the region. 

EMAT has also been overseeing those farm workers who are self isolating at two hotels in the region, which Auger calls "shelter isolation sites."

"One of the identified needs was to get health and resources out to farms and operators while at the same time stabilizing shelter isolation sites," he said, explaining the group ensures all "principles" of isolation are met. 

He said his team has set up a walk-in clinic type structure at the hotels, so that farm workers can be cared for. It's also meant that less people have to go to hospital or the emergency department. 

EMAT will be here "at least another week," said Auger. 

To date, nearly half of all COVID-19 cases reported in Windsor-Essex are among workers in the agricultural sector. That's nearly 1,100 people. 


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