In an effort to ease pressures on local emergency departments, London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is expanding service at its Victoria Hospital COVID-19 Assessment Centre to also treat colds and influenza.
Done in collaboration with the Middlesex London Ontario Heath Team, the move is effective immediately and the centre is now called the COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinic (CCFCC).
Along with treating symptoms related to those illnesses, such as fever, chills, muscle aches, headaches, nasal congestion and sore throat, the CCFCC will also provide assessments, testing and medical guidance.
The clinic only serves adults at this time, but LHSC says it plans to expand service to children “in the near future.”
As of 1:45 p.m. Friday, the wait time for non-emergent and non-urgent concerns sat at 2.25 hours for University Hospital’s emergency department and 9.25 hours for Victoria Hospital’s emergency department, according to LHSC’s wait time webpage.
Children’s Hospital is also under immense pressure amid the ongoing respiratory illness season that’s been largely driven by COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Dr. Rod Lim, medical director of the pediatric emergency department at Children’s Hospital, says the hospital is “seeing 150 per cent above historic volumes” when it comes to visits to the emergency department.
“I wish I could say that we are starting to see some alleviation of pressures that we’ve been seeing since September, but unfortunately that’s not the case. There are many, many sick children that are being taken care of,” Lim said.
“Our main virus that we’re seeing right now is influenza, that seems to be the predominant virus, which is a shift from the RSV that we were seeing about a month ago. We are still seeing all three viruses of course.”
Lim says that observation is especially important as children tend to transmit influenza to the general community “usually about three weeks later,” meaning the local adult population could experience a spike in the virus right around Christmas time.
“It takes about two weeks for (influenza) vaccination to work, so if people are wanting to know what they can do to protect themselves and their loved ones, it would really be to take advantage of that now,” Lim added.
As for the CCFCC, Lim says he’s unsure if it will create a sizable, direct and immediate impact on Children’s Hospital’s emergency department “just because of the hours of operation and the number of patients that we’re talking about,” but he’s still grateful for the move.
“What it does represent is a mirroring of the huge amount of effort that’s going on in the community, in peripheral hospitals, in typical adult spaces that have adopted and adapted to help with this pediatric health-care crisis,” Lim added.
“Everyone’s trying to pull together to do the best they can under very difficult circumstances.”
The CCFCC is located in Building 24 at Victoria Hospital and it operates seven days a week from 9:20 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Appointments must be made in advance to access the adult-only clinic and they can be made through the clinic’s online booking portal or by calling 519-685-8500 ext. 75503.
LHSC says you should consider making an appointment if you lack a primary care provider, if symptoms are worsening and not improving, if you’ve been advised by a health professional and if you are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and qualify for testing and treatment.