I know there have been many questions about the situation at Northwood, including how many people typically die each month, and how many people genuinely died as a result of COVID-19, that would not have otherwise died. I'm not sure we'll ever get the answers to most of these questions, but here is information I can tell you, directly from Northwood:
- How many people die at Northwood in a typical month?
Northwood states 10-12. Of course, that has to be an average and no doubt fluctuates. Could mean 40 one month, 2 the next etc... Averaging out to 10-12 per month over a year. Without more information, this isn't very helpful. I would like to see data on how many people typically die in March, April and May each year over a 5 year period.
- Have there been deaths at Northwood that weren’t tied to COVID-19? Are all deaths since the outbreak confirmed to be COVID-19 related?
"The reporting protocols we have set up, as recommended by public health, are that if an individual tests positive for COVID-19 and passes away, they will still be included in the count of COVID-19 related deaths even if they were at end-of-life. If someone at end-of-life and passes away and tested negative, we will not include them in the count. Our Medical Director reviews all deaths and will work with the Medical Officer of Health to determine the official cause of death. This will include those who did not test positive but have passed away to confirm they are not to be added to the count."
This answer is very telling. It confirms a couple of things. One, that public health policy dictates that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and then dies, is counted as a COVID-19 related death, regardless of whether it was the contributing factor or not. Two, that there are at least some cases at Northwood who were already at end of life that are counted as a COVID-19 related death.
I believe this data is absolutely essential in formulating public policy, and should be made public immediately. 47 people in Nova Scotia have died WITH COVID-19, but how many died FROM COVID-19? All 47 people who died were elderly, 45 of them in Long Term Care. How many of those 47 people were already classed as "end of life" or had a critical illness and were given a short, finite time to live? How many of these 47 people required a ventilator prior to death? How many had genuine COVID-19 symptoms (respiratory distress mainly) that developed and then progressed to their death?
These are tough, yet critical questions that require and deserve an answer in the public space. Not just for Northwood or Nova Scotia, but Canada and beyond. It's fine if policy is to report on all people who died WITH COVID-19, but I suspect those who died FROM COVID-19 is a very different number, and surely that's the number we should be focused on when developing policy. That's the number that paints the picture of the impact the virus has actually had. If 45/47 people would have died regardless of COVID-19, that paints a very different picture vs if only 2/47 would have died, don't you think?