Dr. Berger is a public health and preventive medicine specialist and an Associate Medical Officer of Health at Toronto Public Health. She has postgraduate training in geriatric medicine and her clinical career is focused on Care of the Elderly. Her pandemic research interests lie at the intersection of the two fields.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, there is a need for research into best practice of surveillance and management of outbreaks in congregate settings where older adults are resident. This research should consider the presentation and progression of illness in older persons; management of outbreaks including infection, prevention and control; clinical supports needed, for example clarification of goals of care and palliative care; impacts of public measures such as isolation on both the residents and their caregivers and loved ones. Research can help identify which type of professional is best to lead and drive improvements in this sector.
Studies of pandemic impacts on community living older persons are equally important and would enable identification of common and major impacts on functional decline and how to mitigate them. Some examples include inability to insert hearing aids due to lack of use when isolated at home; loss of ability to use a calendar; diminished participation in physical activity due to lack of foot care; deferral of health care during a pandemic and how older persons can be aided in prioritizing their care; caregiving during a pandemic, including withdrawal of caregivers or caregiving activities due to fear of acquiring or transmitting infection and the additional stress on caregivers.