More than 75 doctors pen letter urging Cornwall residents to get COVID-19 vaccine

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By Nick Seebruch
More than 75 doctors pen letter urging Cornwall residents to get COVID-19 vaccine
Dr. Renee Givari (right), Chief of Medicine and Intensivist at the CCH, receives her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Registered Nurse Elaine MacPhee. Submitted photo.

CORNWALL, Ontario – Seaway News published an open letter in the Wednesday, Oct. 20 edition signed by over 75 local doctors urging residents of Cornwall and the surrounding region to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Doctors who signed their name in support of this letter include Dr. Lorne Scharf, Chief of Staff, Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH), Dr. Neil Davis, President of Medical Staff, at the CCH, and Dr. Paul Westergaard, COVID Medical Lead, at the CCH, as well as dozens of local family doctors, pediatricians, orthopedic surgeons and more.

“We, the medical doctors of your community, are writing this open letter because of the low vaccination rate in the Cornwall region. COVID-19 immunization rates far below the Ontario and Canadian averages are resulting in a high number of COVID-19 cases. While the Ottawa area experiences relief from COVID-19 due to excellent vaccine uptake, the Cornwall Community Hospital is now in crisis,” the opening paragraph of the letter reads.

As of Wednesday approximately 72 per cent of Cornwall residents have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, the lowest rate in the whole of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), but there were small pockets of the City that had higher rates of vaccination and are above 80 per cent.

In their letter, the doctors explain the impact that this lagging vaccination rate is having on the Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH).

“Non-emergency surgeries are being cancelled. These procedures are still important. Many of our patients, family members and loved ones are waiting in pain, living with uncertainty, and suffering due to the delay of their needed care,” the open letter reads. “COVID-19 patients tend to need a lot of intense care. They often require life sustaining ventilators, supplementary oxygen and expensive medications. They spend long times in the hospital as recovery is slow, and this stretches the hospital’s resources beyond capacity.”

The letter goes on to explain how the vast majority of COVID-19 patients in the hospital were not fully vaccinated. As of Wednesday, of the total number of individuals in the EOHU who had an active case of COVID-19, 72 per cent were not fully vaccinated.

The letter states that those who have been vaccinated who experience a breakout infection of COVID-19 in general experience much milder symptoms, are less likely to transmit the virus to others, and help to lower the hospitalization rate in Cornwall.

“The COVID-19 vaccinations used in Canada are some of the best studied, safest and most effective vaccines in medical history. Millions of doses administered worldwide have established effectiveness and safety,” the letter reads. “Please do your part and get the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the vaccine protects you, the community, your loved ones and your hospital. Help us get back to our usual work taking care of this wonderful community by getting the vaccine as soon as possible.”

For those interested in getting their COVID-19 vaccine, please visit:

Or book an appointment over the phone by calling 1-833-943-3900.

The letter was signed by all of the following local doctors:

Dr. Lorne Scharf, Chief of Staff, Cornwall Community Hospital, Dr. Neil Davis, President of Medical Staff, Cornwall Community Hospital, Dr. Paul Westergaard, COVID Medical Lead, Cornwall Community Hospital, Dr. A. Boubalos, Dr. D. Galley, Dr. A. Cook, Dr. D. Bishop, Dr. A. Ciarallo, Dr. G. Abikhzer, Dr. M. Vakili, Dr. T. Assaly, Dr. A. Alsahka, Dr. A. Rosenbloom, Dr. A. Burga, Dr. A. Gibson, Dr. R. Reddoch, Dr. C. Lemire, Dr. C. Lamfookon, Dr. G. Belanger, Dr. J. van Hees, Dr. J. Bourcier, Dr. Q. Ton-That, Dr. A. Arab, Dr. J.G. Leduc, Dr. J. Hoang, Dr. M. Yu, Dr. R. Givari, Dr. D. Volochniouk, Dr. M. Yazdan, Dr. S. Dayal, Dr. J.E. Augustin, Dr. D. Nadkarni, Dr. O. Dehinbo, Dr. S. Pierre, Dr. I. Kirtsman, Dr. L. Nchama, Dr. Z. AlSani, Dr. C. Raynor, Dr. R.D. Tombler, Dr. G. Weinberg, Dr. L. Stephens, Dr. M. Elkurbo, Dr. R. Sharda, Dr. R. Yao, Dr. S. Naoum, Dr. A. Shahnavaz, Dr. Y. Dang , Dr. T. Youssef, Dr. A. Zaid, Dr. A. Blinkina, Dr. D. Peffer, Dr. C. Miller, Dr. P. Antunes, Dr. C. Zerey, Dr. M. Faizer, Dr. V. Carter, Dr. A. Davis, Dr. D. Blackburn, Dr. M. Yitemben, Dr. J. Ross, Dr. H. Ghomeshi, Dr. R. Hendy, Dr. D. Riddell, Dr. Ronald Tremblay, Dr. Roger Tremblay, Dr. P. Sharda, Dr. C. Leigh, Dr. J. Toop, Dr. S. Patel, Dr. H. William, Dr. R. Banik, Dr. Y. Ghantous, Dr. B. Patterson, Dr. A. Di Cintio, Dr. N. Menard, Dr. L.S. Gnanaraj, Dr. M. Smar, Dr. D. Ducas, Dr. C. Millman.

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