Hamilton is shut out of vaping-related health information from local hospitals

Hamilton is shut out of vaping-related health information from local hospitals | HamiltonNews.com

October 21, 2019 by Kevin Werner

Hamilton is shut out of vaping-related health information from local hospitals | HamiltonNews.com

Hamilton’s Board of Health is requesting the provincial government to immediately provide crucial vaping-related health information from the local hospitals to the city.

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton’s medical officer of health, surprised councillors on Oct. 18 when she said that hospitals provide vaping-related health information about the community to the province and the federal government, but not to the city’s own public health officials.

“We are not part of the process at present,” she said. “The information from our hospital goes directly to the province, then to the federal government.”

Richardson said the health information about vaping eventually is provided to municipalities, such as Hamilton, but it is dated.

Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark said since the goal of Hamilton’s officials is to protect good health it makes sense for health officials to have up-to-date information on an emerging health issue.

The Board of Health unanimously approved a motion, introduced by Clark, requesting the province provide the vaping-related incidents involving adults and youths.

“The weekly data we are requesting will help us with patterns and alert us to immediate issues that may warrant public health intervention or action,” he said. “By the time (the health information) gets back here it is no longer timely.”

The Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliot in September issued an order that requires public hospitals to provide the chief medical officer of health with “statistical, non-identifying information related to probable or confirmed cases of vaping-related severe pulmonary disease in order to access data and information to understand the potential scope of this issue,” stated David Jenson, spokesperson for the ministry.

He said since the health information is critical it needs to go directly from public hospitals to the provincial government “as it works with leading experts in developing solutions that can meaningfully respond to this emerging issue.”

He said the ministry will continue to work with stakeholders, including municipalities” if any information about vaping-related illnesses is reported.

Hamilton is shut out of vaping-related health information from local hospitals | HamiltonNews.com

Vaping, also know as “juuling” is when a person inhales an aerosol vapour that is produced by a vaping device such as an e-cigarette. The vapour is produced by heating a liquid or e-juice.

In September, a London-area youth was put on life support as a result of a suspected vapour-related illness, the first person in Canada. He has since recovered.

There have been seven reported deaths and hundreds of cases in the United States.

Health Canada issued an earlier warning to Canadians, stating that vaping products can carry a risk of pulmonary illness.

Richardson said her staff hasn’t “heard” of any vaping-related illnesses in Hamilton, but it “continues to be concerning.”

Hamilton, she said, is working with the city’s school boards involving vaping and is involved with the provincial Smoke-Free group to address vaping.