Jeff Green | Jun 09, 2021

At his final media briefing as Medical Officer of Health for Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington, Dr. Kieran Moore said the co-ordinated efforts of KFL&A Public Health (KFLAPH), other health-care and community organisations, and the public at large in the region to keep COVID infections at a minimum has been the highlight of his career.

“It's very rare for a public health official to work through a pandemic, so I'm very proud of our community and how we've responded to the pandemic over the last year and half ... that's the highlight of my career”

Later, when reflecting on the high points of the pandemic response locally, the weight of responsibility that he feels, particularly in terms of the death rate from COVID, and his appreciation for the work of healthcare professionals got the better of him. He fought back tears when talking about the very low death rate from COVID, 3 at this point, in KFL&A.

Much of the high death rate Ontario and Canada throughout the spring and summer of 2020 came in the long-term care sector, and there were no deaths among residents of staff in the long-term care or retirement home sector in our region.

A re-deployment of KFLAPH inspection staff, including restaurant inspectors, to the long-term care sector in February of 2020, is widely seen as a decision that provided the basis for that enviable safety record.

Looking forward to his new role as Chief Medical Officer for the province of Ontario, he said “my immediate priorities are going to be to continue the fine work that we have done across Ontario on responding to the threat of COVID, and then the work of building the recover. We all know the mental, physical, social, and economic impacts the virus has had, and we have to try to build a new Ontario that's resilient, that continues to monitor for COVID and any of the variants, but tries to start living and thriving in post-pandemic world. That will take a year or two years for us to transition and then restore some of the core public health functions, and health system functions, that we've had to delay across Ontario.”

He also talked about a major priority for his upcoming five year term at the helm of Health Ontario.

“I want to set up an office within the Chief Medical Officer of Health office that just prepares for emergencies and uses simulations to build up the skill sets in an ongoing basis, and reports to the legislature on an annual basis about the state of preparedness of Ontario. And work with our international, national, and provincial partners to ensure that we always have a high state of preparedness from an infection and prevention control vantage point. This includes the ability to detect the viruses that are threats to us with a robust laboratory system, a robust public health response system, and then always practicing with our health system partners on preparedness as well. We will have lots of lessons learned from this outbreak and pandemic, and sadly those lessons were learned during SARS in 2003, and they were learned in H1N1. It's my job that we have a system in place that holds everyone accountable for preparedness on an annual basis, and to make sure that we never let our guard down going forward. We have to maintain the skills ... together we will learn, we will implement best practices. I will be held accountable and I will report annually to the legislature on the state of preparedness of the state of health of the public health system in Ontario. That's a key deliverable that I'm very interested in doing.

Looking back at his Public Health Career in KFL&A, l served as Associate Medical Officer of Health under Dr. Gemmill for 10 years before assuming his role in 2017, he referred to the work he has done on both Lyme Disease and the local response to the opioid crisis that have established KFL&A in a leadership role in the province. In particular, he said he would be bringing the harm reduction opioid framework to the provincial level.

He also revealed that there was a point in the early winter of this year where he was concerned that all of the efforts at prevention, contract tracing and treatment in the region and the province were at the point of breaking down with the onset of COVID-19 variants of concern.

“When the variants of concern started coming in, I was questioning whether our immunization strategy would be effective, whether we would be able to control the spread of variants. I actually didn't anticipate this third wave. I thought we were making good progress ... we had a vaccine that would be very effective. Variants of concern and the ongoing mutation of this virus was the low or me, because it threatened our entire strategy.”

That concern over the mutation of COVID-29, and in particular the newest Delta variant will become a major focus as Dr. Moore takes over Ontario Health.

“So far these vaccines have been very effective against variants,” he said, and the Delta variant is the one that concerns me the most at this moment.

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