Hamilton’s West End Urgent Care Clinic reopens as COVID-19 cases decline in local hospitals

The West End Urgent Care Centre on Main Street in Hamilton, Ont. will be back operating on Mar. 23, 2022. It closed for over two months amid a surge in COVID-19 cases during the Omicron wave. Global News

A Hamilton clinic that closed in early January amid a surge of hospitalizations during the peak of the COVID-19 Omicron wave is set to resume normal operations on Thursday.

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) says the West End Urgent Care Clinic on Main Street West at Macklin Street South will go back to offering seven-day a week care again on March 24.

“If you’re experiencing an illness or injury that isn’t an emergency but can’t wait for an appointment with a family doctor, an urgent care centre is a good option for you,” emergency medicine chief Dr. Kuldeep Sidhu said in a statement.

The clinic had been shuttered for close to ten weeks after five emergency-trained physicians, 10 nurses and other staff (clerks, environmental aides, etc.) were moved to other emergency departments (EDs) and other high priority facilities in the network.

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Sidhu said an influx of patients requiring admission to acute wards and staffing shortages during the Omicron surge was the reason for the shut down on Jan. 14.

The reactivation of the facility means those needing things like stitches for wounds, simple broken bone treatment as well as some X-ray and laboratory services can check into the clinic as of noon Thursday.

Hamilton has two urgent care centres, including St. Joe’s Healthcare Hamilton King Campus in the east end, which are staffed with emergency department-trained doctors and nurses providing quick access compared to the city’s hospital ERs.

The centre closed just days after HHS executives revealed occupancy at its major hospitals, Hamilton General and the Juravinski, were running at more than 100 per cent of their typical occupancy levels.

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“I always remind folks that hospitals should be more in the range of 90 (per cent) on the best days, let alone 102, and the 115 at the General,” executive vice president and chief operating officer Sharon Pierson said during a staff town hall the day before the closure.

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At the time at least 300 people were hospitalized with COVID in Hamilton with 40 in the city’s ICUs.

As of March 23, the city’s two hospital networks reported under 50 COVID cases combined, including fewer than five people in ICUs.

Hamilton's top doc says easing of mask mandate 'reasonable' at this point

With COVID case numbers and hospitalizations “well down” in Hamilton, the city medical officer of health says she’s “OK” with the province’s latest easing of pandemic measures, which includes looser mask mandates.

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton the changes are “reasonable” and the right step at this point in time.

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“I think, you know, to have done it this week, next week, the week after, it would be somewhat similar in terms of what we’re seeing,” Richardson said.

The latest Scarsin forecasting, revealed during the board of health meeting on Monday, suggests there will be a “small swell” of new COVID cases in the spring.

The worst of two scenarios suggests there may be 200 COVID-related hospitalizations between now and late May but nothing that suggests the city’s health networks would be overwhelmed as compared to the January wave.

“I think that speaks to the fact that people are continuing to make wise choices,” said Richardson. “They continue to be thoughtful about what they’re doing and that’s what we need.”

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Ontario reported 611 people in hospital with COVID on Wednesday, with 174 in intensive care. This is down by 28 for hospitalizations and a decrease of five in ICUs since the previous day.

Hamilton’s institutional outbreaks in recent weeks have also decreased to an ongoing average of five to 10 surges reported per day since mid-February.

During the peak of the Omicron wave in January, the city had as many as 90 or more ongoing outbreaks on a given day.

The city had just 10 confirmed surges as of Wednesday and one suspect case at the Wentworth Lodge long-term care home (LTCH).

St. Joseph’s Villa LTCH accounts for almost half of the 88 total COVID cases tied to current outbreaks in the city’s institutions.

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