Public Health Sudbury & Districts released the results of a community survey on the health unit’s response to the first wave of COVID-19 in October.
The results of the evaluation were included in the agenda of the board of health’s monthly meeting held on Oct. 15 via Skype.
In total, 788 surveys were completed by community members in PHSD’s service area – about 92 per cent of respondents resided in Greater Sudbury, while 7.7 per cent of respondents lived in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts.
In terms of overall satisfaction, almost three-quarters of respondents indicated that they were satisfied with Public Health’s response to the first wave, with 41.6 per cent indicating that they were very satisfied, and 31.2 per cent indicating that they were somewhat satisfied.
“The results indicate that the agency’s response and supporting processes and structures during the first wave of the pandemic were adequate, appropriate, and effective,” said the report published by Public Health.
“Additionally, community partners, stakeholders, and community residents offered valuable insight regarding opportunities to improve and sustain our Public Health Sudbury & District COVID-19 response.”
Community members and stakeholders named keeping the virus “to a minimum” in this area as one of the things that PHSD did well during the first wave.
Community collaboration on emergency preparedness, effective case and contact management, timely updates through multiple media sources, sustained education efforts, and the visibility of Medical Officer of Health Dr. Penny Sutcliffe through news releases, radio interviews, tweets, and chats were also strengths noted by members of the public.
“I believe that through all of this Public Health has done a great job. No one has had to experience a situation like this before and having to continuously keep up with information and changes, I believe that everyone has done a great job,” said one of the respondents of the survey.
People did suggest that the health unit could improve their response to a second wave by telling them more about the role of Public Health, including communicating the “why” of decisions being made and developing more inclusive ways to share information.
One respondent noted (in French) that Public Health was releasing new information in English only and recommended that the health unit release information in both official languages.
Others noted that the agency’s website was not user friendly, suggested more virtual services for things not related to COVID-19, and asked the health unit to increase their presence even more with things like daily debriefings.
“Most respondents (81 per cent) indicated that they relied on Public Health Sudbury & Districts for information related to COVID-19 either often or sometimes,” said the report.
“Additionally, 59.1 per cent of respondents indicated that they had accessed, viewed or been given resources or information from the agency related to COVID-19 with the vast majority of those respondents indicating that they found the information helpful.”
A majority of community partners and stakeholders, including businesses and frontline staff representing a variety of sectors like local municipal government, childcare, and communication companies, also indicated that they felt supported by Public Health during the first wave of the pandemic.
“Collaboration between senior management, the City of Greater Sudbury, and the health unit was frequent and consistent,” said one respondent.
“In my role, I was able to reach out to Public Health directly to obtain necessary support with prompt response.”
Out of 31.6 per cent of partners and stakeholders who indicated they received support for Stage 1, 2, or 3 re-openings, 73.8 per cent felt “well supported” by Public Health.
“Advising on safety protocols for access to school. We received direction from PHSD on how to safely attend our school during the shutdown. As a result, our school provided us with PPE and other guidance,” said a respondent.
The survey also explored the unintended consequences of scaling up the agency’s pandemic response, which caused a reduction in non-COVID-19 related services and programs.
Many businesses reported that they had not been affected by the decrease in non-COVID-19 related services, but the report did not indicate how many community members might have been affected as well.
To read the full report, visit Public Health Sudbury & Districts website at bit.ly/2SXfKG7.
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