Nicolette Morris, left, and Jennifer Lazenby are working on a strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Cowichan doctor, restaurant emphasizing social distancing

Morris and his wife, Nicolette, are also owners of The Greenhouse Cafe

A Duncan-based infectious diseases and internal medicine specialist is taking an aggressive stance against the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Cowichan Valley.

Dr. Chester Morris has a practice at 177 Kenneth St. and also runs the ICU at Cowichan District Hospital when on call, a rotation he shares with four other internists.

Morris and his wife, Nicolette, are also owners of The Greenhouse Cafe and are the owners of the building that is home to a clinic where Dr. Kelsey Kozoris runs a bariatric and metabolic clinic.

Next door to the Greenhouse Cafe, the Fit & Salty fitness studio is taking measures to combat the virus.

“We have decided to take pro-active action in our community,” Nicolette Morris says. “The Greenhouse is now a ‘ghost’ cafe. This means it is only open for take-out and only accepts tap payments. Staff have been well trained on safety precautions and social distancing.”

Morris says Fit & Salty has moved all its classes to a video conferencing format and Dr. Kozoriz is doing all her consultations by video conferencing whenever practical.

“Dr. Morris is cancelling all non-essential visits and is using the fitness facility to provide a waiting room that allows more than six feet distancing from other people and heavy duty infection protocols are in place,” Morris added.

Other steps she has taken include initiating a call for pro-active action ideas via a Facebook campaign called “Together we can slow Covid-19”.

Morris is collaborating with Volunteer Cowichan to help them in their efforts to organize volunteers to deliver take-out meals from restaurants and groceries to seniors, immune compromised and quarantined people.

Jennifer Lazenby, executive director of Volunteer Cowichan says an organized response is critical to curbing the spread of COVID-19.

“This is about empowering the people and putting forward an organized response so everyone can contribute,” Lazenby said, adding more than 20 volunteers are in place to deliver meals.

Lazenby says there is an opportunity to get the community involved “and not make it get too crazy.”

Morris says it’s critical that Cowichan Valley residents respond in an organized, determined fashion that is sensible.

“It’s about enabling social distancing while maintaining a way to do business and live our lives.

“I have reached out to other members of the community to help with the mission of coming up with innovative ways to live our lives and do business.

Morris says turning the The Greenhouse Café into a “ghost” cafe is a pro-active action designed to set an example.

“Social distancing is proven to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Slowing it down is crucial as it allows our health care system to better cope with the sick.

“Our large population of seniors in the Valley need to be protected as much as possible. If we all take action by coming up with innovative ways to employ social distancing whilst continuing with our daily lives we are doing something incredibly important. We are making a difference,” Morris says.

“So we are only open for take-out and ask that you stand at least six feet away from other customers waiting for pick-up or orders. We also only accept tap payments via credit or debit cards. Cash is a well known germ spreader.”

See the Facebook pages “Social distancing saves lives” and “Together we can slow Covid-19”.

“If we all brainstorm ways to do business differently we will be taking control of this situation,” Morris says.

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