As we are all increasingly aware, the impacts of COVID-19 are expected to stretch the capacity of Canada’s healthcare systems. We are also seeing Canadians come together in remarkable ways to support each other, and to shore up our ability to confront this pandemic. RTs are playing a leading role in this historic national response, and the CSRT is proud to represent RTs while engaging with all levels of government.
Much public attention has recently turned to the availability of critical medical equipment, in particular to ventilators. As announced by Prime Minister Trudeau yesterday, the federal government has procured 30,000 new ventilators to be added to national stockpiles for use wherever need surpasses capacity in Canada. This is in addition to already existing strategic stockpiles of 1500 ventilators also available for this purpose. Availability of these ventilators may become imperative to ensure respiratory therapists have the clinical tools needed to care for Canadians. Over the past weeks the CSRT has been collaborating with the agencies involved to secure these stockpiles.
The CSRT is actively working alongside the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Health Canada to procure ventilators from manufacturers domestically and internationally.
Throughout this procurement process, the CSRT has provided expert review of a range of ventilator models being considered for purchase. This ensures that RT expertise forms an important part of the decision making process. Collaboration with PHAC has positioned the CSRT to be well informed of the ventilator models available in national strategic stockpiles. In effort to support RTs across the country who may use these in their practice, a repository of resources for each ventilator model currently in the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile will soon be available on the CSRT website, on our coronavirus resource page.
In collaboration with the federal Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the CSRT has provided expert advice on a range of made in Canada innovative ventilator designs.
The Ministry’s review process culminated in selection of two new ventilators models that will be manufactured by Canadian companies who will modify or retool their production facilities. Respiratory therapists are at the forefront of these creative and unprecedented solutions.
One primary goal of CSRT activities in recent weeks has been to ensure ventilators introduced into Canadian hospitals meet the practice standards expected by respiratory therapists. We continue to advocate for appropriate access in all jurisdictions to the full range of equipment needed by respiratory therapists – including personal protective equipment.
Of course as you are all aware, an essential component of the essential equation when considering our capacity to respond to COVID-19 is YOU. The availability and readiness of respiratory therapists to care for Canadians is absolutely paramount. I would like to commend all respiratory therapy regulatory colleges for their efforts to mobilize respiratory therapists and ensure the health human resource needs are safely met in each province. The CSRT also is involved with governments in non-regulated jurisdictions in this regard, and in collaboration with the British Columbia Society of Respiratory Therapists in BC.
As the calls for your expertise increase in the days and weeks ahead, the CSRT will continue to seek ways of supporting your evolving needs. We have lunched a Rapid Response Refresher Toolkit to support RTs returning to practice after retirement, and those who identify the need for continuing professional development on specific areas of practice. We have also released new Position Statements to provide practice guidance in your increasingly challenging work environments.
Our work is not done. Through it all, please know that the CSRT is tirelessly advocating for you – and we salute you for the work you are doing every day.
Take good care,
Dr. Andrew West, CEO
Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists