With children’s hospitals across Ontario experiencing dramatic increases in illnesses like respiratory syncytial virus, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, which manages both the Huntsville and Bracebridge hospitals, is preparing for a potential surge.
MAHC is ramping up supplies and medications for younger patients, it has participated in regional pediatric surge planning, increased education for staff by conducting emergency department simulations with all team members, and is collaborating with hospital partners who provide more advanced pediatric care, according to MAHC president and CEO Cheryl Harrison.
“Anecdotally, our team is telling us that there has been an increase in respiratory-related visits for all ages, including young children,” she noted.
“In October and November, we continued to see 60 per day volumes through our Emergency Departments, and did not experience the usual decline in Emergency Department visits after the summer, in part due to the rise in influenza and respiratory illnesses. Since September, we have seen over 50 flu cases, one-third of which were admitted to hospital. We continue to see cases of influenza requiring hospitalization.”
Harrison said both hospital sites continue to regularly operate at a 100 per cent capacity, as they have for many years. “This high inpatient occupancy puts a strain on patient flow from the Emergency Departments for patients requiring admission. During times when there are absolutely no beds available at either site, patients remain admitted in the Emergency Department until appropriate beds become available or we can facilitate a transfer to another hospital. This means that Emergency Department wait times can still be long even though summer is over.”
Harrison said MAHC works closely with community partners for timely access to the right care for the patient in the right bed in order to create capacity through the system by, for example, placing patients in long-term care or hospice for palliative patients. MAHC also continues to provide information about what options are available other than the ER at #wheretogetcaremuskoka.
With respect to COVID-19, as of November 29 there were six patients with COVID-19 in hospital across both sites, said Harrison.
She said while the health unit is reporting the current risk level in Simcoe Muskoka is moderate, there is a continued requirement for masking at both hospitals by all staff, visitors, and patients when another person is in their presence.
“We encourage our team members to get vaccinated against influenza, and get their COVID-19 boosters. In addition to encouraging vaccination, we echo advice from public health to wear masks in indoor public settings and to stay away from work, family and friends when sick. Most importantly, we ask people not to visit their loved ones in hospital if they are feeling unwell, to help protect patients from getting sick.”
MAHC’s vaccination policy remains in effect, requiring all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with a minimum of two doses.
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