STEGH has surpassed its capacity for critical care due to COVID-19

St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, in an urgent statement issued late Friday afternoon, Nov. 12, stated the number of patients requiring critical care there was at the highest since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of COVID-19 cases at STEGH was “increasing at an unprecedented rate,” it said. All 13 COVID-19 patients now at the hospital were not vaccinated against the virus.

Chief of Staff Dr. Waleed Chehadi said, “We have reached our capacity to care for critically-ill patients and our hospital is operating above capacity, both of which are the direct result of COVID-19.

“COVID -19 admissions have risen significantly over the course of the week and are expected to continue to rise over the next several weeks. The reality of this means patients will need to be transferred to other hospitals and receiving care outside of the community.

“This is particularly hard for me to see as a clinician, since all of these infections could have been prevented had the individuals been vaccinated.”

STEGH was asking the public’s help to ease the burden on it.

“If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, please seek medical care early before your symptoms worsen and your condition deteriorates to the point of requiring life sustaining therapy,” Dr. Chehadi said. “While we do not want to discourage anyone from seeking care, please consider if your needs are potentially addressed through other health system supports available to you first, such as your primary care specialist’s office, walk-in clinic, or Ontario Telehealth.”Dr. Joyce Lock, Medical Officer of Health at Southwestern Public Health, said in the hospital statement that additional public health restrictions might be required to protect the community and hospital capacity:

“One of the indicators we use, when considering further public health measures, is hospital capacity. Our hospital partners are telling us their beds are full.

“If you are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 this is your rallying cry. There are 154 active cases in the Southwestern Public Health region. We have one of the highest rates of cases per 100,000 people in the province.”

Sixty-four percent of these cases were in individuals under the age of 40 and most were unvaccinated, she said. “Get vaccinated for your own health, for the safety of our workplaces and schools, and to relieve the pressure on the hospital system we all rely on.

“In addition, I implore you to follow all public health measures. Wear your face covering diligently and avoid close contact, enclosed spaces and crowded places. I also highly recommend you limit your socialization to a small group of close contacts.”