COVID-19: Quinte Health Care hospitals deal with staff shortages during Omicron wave

Click to play video: 'Quinte Health Care hospitals deal with staff shortages during Omicron wave' Quinte Health Care hospitals deal with staff shortages during Omicron wave
WATCH: Quinte Health Care is currently dealing with five COVID-19 outbreaks across its four hospitals, and operating 40 beds over surge capacity – Jan 6, 2022

Across the four Quinte Health Care (QHC) hospitals in Prince Edward and Hastings counties, staff shortages are proving to be the biggest challenge of the Omicron wave.

“I know much of the public is kind of sick of hearing about flattening the wave, but Omicron is the exact kind of wave that you want to flatten just given how transmissible it is,” says QHC President and CEO Stacey Daub.

“Flattening this particular wave is going to give us a running chance at being able to keep our staffing levels relatively stable and not have more individuals in need of hospital care due to Omicron.”

According to Daub, 100 staff members are off work due to COVID-19 or COVID-related symptoms.

Read more: COVID-19 outbreak on Kidd 6 at Kingston General Hospital

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QHC has now re-deployed its surgical teams to support staff, which also means the cancellation of many surgeries.

“As soon as we can ramp up our surgeries again, we will,” Daub says. “It’s really important to note that we are continuing to do all high-priority surgeries, including cancer surgeries, at this time.”

As of Jan. 4, there are just over 1,500 people waiting for surgery with QHC. The current directive will impact about 160 surgeries a week.

But Daub says the staffing shortages aren’t necessarily new. In fact, she says they’ve been years in the making.

“The long game really is to create a better and more robust hospital and community system that has more beds per capita, way more nurses per capita and get us operating in a way that helps us deliver the type of care that nurses want to deliver and were trained to deliver.”

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Daub says that projections done by QHC show an expected peak in COVID cases around Jan. 14, before beginning to subside.

She says that QHC has built the internal capacity to be able to manage, even though it’s currently operating 40 beds over surge capacity.

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Daub’s long-term goal for QHC is to be able to operate with an 85-per cent capacity.

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