Cape Breton University (CBU) President, David C. Dingwall recently convened a Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) consisting of local physicians representing infectious diseases, primary care, pediatrics, emergency care, mental health and public health. The purpose of this committee is to link students to appropriate resources; add programs and services to the current health and counselling centre; advocate for increased access to provincial medical insurance for international students; offer insight into expanding the infrastructure and staffing model of the CBU Max Bell Health and Counseling Centre, and provide guidance on best practices.
Local Physicians Dr. Andrew Lynk, Dr. Chris Lata, Dr. RJ MacKenzie, Dr. Yvonne Libbus, and Dr. Reggie Sebastian, make up the committee, which will meet virtually eight times a year.
“I am thrilled to have the knowledge and expertise of this committee working for the benefit of the CBU community, especially our students who can be considered a vulnerable population,” says President Dingwall. “The expertise of this committee will be monumental for us as a post-secondary institutional and community leader, and allow us not only to enhance the care we provide but to also better advocate on behalf of our students for the health care they need and deserve. This committee is especially important now with the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, but will remain crucial to ensuring the health and well-being of our community in the years to come.”
With the inaugural meeting held on December 8, and after much discussion with the MAC, the CBU Return to Campus Committee and the CBU Management Group, CBU has made the decision to return to a temporary remote work period for employees from December 14, 2020 to January 6, 2021.
“This decision was not made lightly, but it is made in the absolute best interest of employees of CBU,” says President Dingwall. “While we have every possible precaution in place on campus and our employees working on-site are very safe, we know that by decreasing the population density we can make it even safer for those who need to physically be here to perform their job functions. This decision was made out caution and fully supported by the Medical Advisory Committee.”
Dr. Yvonne Libbus a well-known local psychiatrist and CBU alumnae shared ideas around how individuals can add hope and joy to their range of emotions this holiday season, stating, “We have all felt intense emotions over external factors brought on in 2020. With the holiday season approaching and family and friends not being able to gather as they normally would, we need to work harder to find joy in the days ahead.” It is with this sentiment, Dr. Libbus will look to create and implement a program intended to enhance collective resilience by showing people how to make the conscious effort to create joy from within themselves, spread joy and activate hope in each other at a time that people seem to be fatiguing from the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the MAC reconvenes in January priorities will also include advocating for broader access to asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for students in the Cape Breton region and allowing International students to be eligible for MSI upon arrival into Nova Scotia.
“Our students have valid and genuine concerns around access to healthcare,” says President Dingwall. “The Medical Advisory Committee and I are very much looking forward to working together to create positive change in our great Province.”