These are challenging times for respiratory therapists and their colleagues in Canada and around the world. Since the appearance of the virus late last year, the CSRT has diligently monitored and assessed the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on an ongoing basis. At all times the health and safety of our members, volunteers, conference registrants, speakers, industry partners and staff have been at the forefront of our discussions and planning. As the immediacy of the risks associated with this pandemic became clear the CSRT acted expediently.
From the outset, the CSRT has prioritized supporting the practice of respiratory therapists by hosting a relevant and timely repository of information on COVID-19. We have also established a national discussion forum for all members to share ideas about evolving practice issues related to COVID-19. In a time when we are all being inundated with information of varying degrees of reliability, we recognize that it is crucial that you have a trusted source for accessing reliable and relevant information. We are pleased to hear from many of you that this has been helpful.
As part of its ongoing monitoring, the CSRT undertook a comprehensive public health risk assessment of the 2020 CSRT Conference pursuant to the guidelines established by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The results of that assessment demonstrated substantial health risks associated with the 2020 CSRT Annual Conference scheduled for May. At that time the CSRT took the very difficult decision to cancel the conference.
In the background, the CSRT has been actively engaged in providing information to the federal and provincial governments, public health agencies, and to media outlets. We have been taking the opportunity wherever possible to advocate on the issues of concern being voiced by respiratory therapists (such as the possible scarcity of ventilators, personal protective equipment, and health human resources). We will continue to advocate for respiratory therapists and for the health of Canadians throughout this crisis.
We recognize that you will have ongoing continuing professional development needs throughout the upcoming year. The CSRT is currently exploring opportunities to make some of the great sessions previously planned for the 2020 Conference available to all members by live stream and webinar over the next months. We look forward to sharing information regarding these opportunities as they become available, as well as our plans for the next conference in Banff, AB, in May 2021.
The CSRT Board of Directors and staff have received a tremendous amount of well wishes from across the country, and for that we thank you. It needs to be stated, however, that it is the respiratory therapists on the front lines of this fight along with those supporting them from behind the front, who deserve a national thank you. To all our members – we are so very proud of your professional and talented response to this call to action. You have always provided the best care possible in face of trying circumstances, and we know you will continue to do so in these unprecedented times!
CSRT services for members continue uninterrupted despite these challenges. The initiatives undertaken over the past two years into new infrastructures and technologies have positioned the CSRT well, both operationally and financially. We are fully able to operate virtually, and our cloud-based systems and applications are completely sustainable and accessible in these unique circumstances. You can each be confident that the CSRT will continue to be here to help and support you.
On a more personal note, I ask that you please be vigilant and take the necessary steps to care for your patients, families and friends – and of course, yourselves.
Dr. Andrew West, CEO
Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists