As people get ready to gather for Easter, London Health Sciences Centre is warning people to exercise caution about gathering, as hospital resources continue to be stained.
Headed into the long weekend, interim executive vice-president and chief medical officer Dr. Adam Dukelow reported that 321 staff members are off with COVID-19 and that the same number are off because they are a close contact of someone with the virus. He adds that this does not include all those off for other non-COVID-19-related reasons like vacations.
The 321 is an increase from the 278 reported the day before.
“When you get there, you’re short-staffed and waits are longer for our patients, and so that is a frustrating environment, both for providers and patients. This is on the back of lots of fatigue, absolutely. We’re over two years into this and never thought I’d see wave three, let alone wave six, and I think many health-care workers feel the same,” Dukelow says.
The increase in absences, coupled with the high COVID-19 case counts in the region and the fact most of those in the intensive care unit are unvaccinated is leading to fatigue and straining their resources, says LHSC’s chief of critical care Dr. Wael Haddara.
Headed into a time when many people are likely to gather for a meal with family and friends, LHSC is urging people to take precautions like wearing a mask, avoiding large gatherings and staying outside when possible.
Residents are also reminded to stay home if they are feeling any symptoms to avoid spreading the virus.
“One thing we’ve learned over the last two years is that it doesn’t really pay to be optimistic or pessimistic about COVID, you just need to be ready, and right now, our readiness is really strained by our health human resource situation. We are doing everything we can as an institution, as teams. People are pulling all the stops to try to be ready to provide care if we need to,” Haddara says.
Because of staffing shortages, LHSC has had to close some care spots because it doesn’t have enough nurses, clerks or personal support workers to look after the patients in those spaces. Dukelow says this has led to a reduction in scheduled services.
As of Thursday, Dukelow notes they have not had to transfer patients to other hospitals, but it is something he warned about early in the week.
Ontario is reporting 1,392 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Thursday, with 177 in intensive care.
This is up by 60 for hospitalizations but a decrease of five for ICUs since the previous day.
Last Thursday, there were 1,126 hospitalizations with 159 in ICU in Ontario hospitals. This is a 24 per cent and 11 per cent increase, respectively, to the figures this week.
Both Dukelow and Haddara are urging people to be cautious, get vaccinated and continue to wear masks to avoid having to make a visit to the hospital.
“We’ve all heard the term living with COVID and living with COVID just also means recognizing that it’s still around and doing whatever we can, whatever every individual can do,” Haddara says.
— with files from Gabby Rodrigues