More than 4,000 people have been examined at the COVID-19 assessment centre at Brewer Park Arena in Ottawa since it opened just under two weeks ago, according to an Ottawa Hospital emergency physician who helped plan the centre.
The Brewer Park assessment centre opened its doors on March 13 amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, as health officials raced to protect local emergency departments from the additional pressure of COVID-19 assessment and testing.
“We were able to significantly decrease the volumes in the emergency departments,” Dr. Andrew Willmore, the Ottawa Hospital’s medical director of emergency management, told reporters during a daily teleconference with local health officials on Thursday.
Willmore is also the lead physician of a clinical care group that coordinates heath-care planning for the entire region. Together with the Ottawa Hospital and CHEO, that group planned and supported the opening the Brewer Park Centre and a second centre just outside the city.
The assessment centre in Hawkesbury, just east of the national capital, opened earlier this week, Willmore said.
New care clinics ‘ready to be opened if need arises’
There have been rumblings this week that new assessment centres will soon open in Ottawa.
Willmore confirmed that new care clinics aimed at addressing more urgent care needs have been prepped in collaboration with the Queensway Carleton Hospital, Hôpital Montfort and Ontario’s ministry of health. Those centres are “ready to be opened if the need arises,” he said.
Willmore described the new clinics as “assessment centres with an expanded scope.”
The centres at Brewer Park and in Hawkesbury are focused on swabbing, he explained. By comparison, the new care clinics would be able to provide “ambulatory assessment with diagnostic capabilities,” according to Willmore.
The emergency physician said he would have more details to share about the new care clinics next week.
Ottawa Public Health said Thursday it’s investigating 51 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the national capital — although the health unit says there’s likely around 4,000 undetected cases in the city.
One Ottawa resident who contracted the virus, a man in his 90s with no recent travel history, has died.
For its part, the Ontario government has so far confirmed 32 positive cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa. Asked about the discrepancy, Dr. Vera Etches, the city’s chief medical officer, couldn’t immediately explain it but said she would look into the matter with the province.
‘Some tension on the front lines’: Willmore
Asked about how front-line heath care workers are coping amid the coronavirus pandemic, Willmore said health care staff are “very good at managing” because they “deal with infectious disease all the time,” which perhaps sets them apart from the average citizen.
That said, he acknowledged “this is a difficult time for everybody” and he has observed “some tension on the front lines.”
“There’s always going to be concerns. … On the planning side of things and with our operational groups, it’s something that we really take seriously,” Willmore said.
“We are continuing to engage with these front-line health care workers to help them inform this system that we’re building right now to prepare for COVID.
Speaking to reporters, Willmore thanked members of the community who have or have offered to donate personal protective equipment to Ottawa’s hospitals.
While he couldn’t elaborate on the state of the hospitals’ stockpiles, he said the hospital would communicate any supply shortages after taking inventory of the donations so far.
Willmore asked anyone interested in donating personal protective equipment to email: email@example.com
Self-isolating with no symptoms? Public health unit clarifies guidelines for outings
Etches on Thursday also tried to clear up confusion around guidelines for people who are self-isolating but are not showing symptoms of COVID-19.
People have been told to not make trips outside of the house for errands like groceries if they’re in self-isolation and to get someone to pick up and drop off those supplies.
When it comes to stepping out of the house at all, Etches confirmed “it is OK to go for a walk outside” if you aren’t showing symptoms, but that you should “maintain a distance of at least six metres from anyone you encounter.”
That’s in comparison to the two metres that healthy people are asked to maintain from others as Canadians practice physical distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“We want you to stay healthy and be able to get outside, get some fresh air while practicing physical distancing,” Etches said.View link »