Monday 24 January 2022

Weathering the storm as the pandemic drags on

Having only just joined the Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare team less than a month ago, this is my first blog as Interim President & CEO. I don’t think anyone would have imagined back in March 2020 that we would still be consumed by an ongoing pandemic nearly two years later and that it would still be the subject of the CEO blog.  

The current COVID-19 landscape with Omicron is likely the biggest test of the hospitals’ response with rising case numbers in a relatively short period of time from a highly contagious variant amidst a shrinking workforce.

In addition to heavy inpatient occupancy from increasing admissions at both sites, we are also seeing our highest COVID hospitalization rates in two years – at one point topping double digits this month with 15 COVID-positive inpatients at one time.

Creating additional challenges is the significant absence of human resources across the entire health care industry. Every hospital is working through staffing shortages, especially as team members become sick or exposed to COVID-19 and isolate at home away from the workplace. And MAHC is no different.

In line with provincial direction, we have had to scale back scheduled care, including non-urgent surgeries, some diagnostic testing and clinic activity to redeploy our staff to maintain urgent and emergent services and look after our admitted patients. This directive, which is in place for a while longer, helps to bolster the workforce for a limited time. But postponing non-urgent care is very difficult for those who have been waiting for care. We are deeply sorry this measure has to be taken, and will do our best to resume those ramped down services as soon as we can.

Rest assured our hospitals across North Simcoe Muskoka are working closely together to maintain consistent access to urgent and emergent care. This may require transfers of patients to services further afield, and that means loved ones may not be as close to home.

To those who need the hospitals, we’re still here for you. Your patience and kindness is appreciated, recognizing that everyone is exhausted and frustrated.

Our staff and physicians are doing their best during extraordinary times. They also need the full support of the community and everyone’s help in slowing down the transmission of this virus and using our precious health care resources in the most effective way possible.

Please remember to be kind and follow all public health measures to protect yourself and those around you. Please get vaccinated, including the third vaccine dose as soon as you are able. Three doses of vaccine is very effective in reducing COVID spread and almost eliminates serious complications of COVID infection and even the chance of being hospitalized, which in turn helps keep hospital beds available.

We can only hope that this wave of the pandemic will soon peak and provide some relief on an immensely taxed system. We will get through this together.

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