Helping our Community Avoid COVID-19

LJI Journalist Name
Paula Dayan-Perez
LJI Partner Name
Acadian Communications
Cheticamp NS

Chéticamp, Novia Scotia -- In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we realized the community had many questions about the virus and the risks that it posed to our region. We reached out to local doctors who gave us interviews in English and in French about the virus’ symptoms, recommendations on how to avoid infection and the potential impacts on our rural health system if an outbreak were to take place in Chéticamp.

Between the three video segments, we amassed 41,183 views on YouTube. It’s a significant number considering we have a population of about 5,076 in Chéticamp and surrounding areas. Community members expressed both concern about the gravity of the virus but also gratefulness to us and the doctors for providing the information.

A YouTube user commented: “This should be shared to the national Health Canada Website. It's the most informative and UNDERSTANDABLE interview I've heard so far! Excellent work Dr Michel!” Another user wrote, “This information is GOLD! Thank you!” Another, “Thank you for taking the time and care to do this video.”

Although information about the virus could be found elsewhere, we were the first media outlet who provided the community with details about the local health care system: the fact that our hospital has only 10 beds; that patients infected with COVID-19 would be transported to a floor on the Cape Breton Regional Hospital (CBRH); and that if the COVID-19 section at CBRH became full, patients would have to stay in Chéticamp and doctors would have to work with limited resources. This was at the beginning of the pandemic and officials projected infection rates of 70% to 80% of the population if safety precautions weren’t taken. The possibility of seeing N.S. specialized hospitals fill up was not out of the question.

Our interviews were played by the local radio, La Coopérative Radio Chéticamp (CKJM) and referenced by the local newspaper The Inverness Oran. Both our journalist and the station were given full credit.

Through the pandemic, Chéticamp residents worked together to advocate for the needs and worries of the community. Our initial coverage about the limits of our local healthcare system and the risk to our vulnerable populations was always part of their discourse.

- Paula Dayan-Perez, Journalist at CHNE-TV, Télévision communautaire de Chéticamp