St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital reported on Thursday morning, Oct. 27, that it had 27 patients with COVID-19, and was over capacity “in all areas.”
The hospital, in a statement, said STEGH “continues to deal with staffing concerns and high occupancy rates, means a shortage of beds and longer emergency wait times.
“With flu season around the corner, STEGH does not anticipate these challenges to subside any time soon. In fact, the approaching winter months could make the situation worse.”
Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Karen Davies said, “We are still seeing an increasing number of patients with COVID-19. Today, we have 27 patients in hospital with COVID-19. That’s significantly more than we’ve had the past few weeks.
“We are experiencing a (hospital) system under pressure across our entire region. Many of us are functioning with critical staffing levels while also addressing an increase in patient volumes with respiratory illness, including COVID.”
STEGH stated it was over capacity “in all areas, including the paediatric and neonatal intensive care units.” With colds and flu expected to spread, “the coming weeks will be very challenging,” including patients waiting longer in the emergency room before being admitted to a bed.
Patient Services Vice-President and Chief Nursing Executive Craig Watkin said, “Our Emergency Department is seeing more patients who have high acuity and a greater level of complexity. This is likely due to the lengthy duration of the pandemic.
“People may not have been able to access care or they have been delaying seeking care, so they are coming in sicker, often requiring admission to hospital. Increased wait times, staffing shortages and even emergency room closures are unfortunately continuing to be a major issue across our region.”
STEGH appealed to the community for help, encouraging residents to seek alternate options for non-urgent care rather than the hospital’s emergency department. Alternate options included contacting a family doctor, visiting a walk-in clinic or urgent care centre, or contacting Health Connect Ontario by calling “8-1-1”, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get health advice from a registered nurse.
Residents were also urged to mitigate their personal risk of contracting a respiratory infection by wearing a mask in public areas, minimizing exposure to those who may be ill, staying home if sick, and getting a flu shot.