Hospitals, LTC feeling the pressure from Omicron

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Heather Wright Photo

Seven COVID-19 outbreaks in Lambton are all in long term care homes

Hospitals and long term care homes across the province are feeling the pressure of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario.

Today, there are 2081 people in hospital with COVID-19 across the province; that’s compared to 1,290 on Tuesday.

The number of people seriously ill and in need of an intensive care bed is also up 22 to 288 today.

The situation is similar in Lambton County where the chief of staff and the president of Bluewater Health issued a letter to the community urging them to reduce the amount of time they spend with others to reduce the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Mike Lapaine and Dr. Michael Haddad also urged people to get vaccinated.

The letter says hospital staff have been through a lot in the last 22 months but the increasing number of people needing hospitalization today “is the most worrisome yet.

“Over the past two weeks we have more than quadrupled the number of COVID-positive patients in hospital (from seven to 31) and more than half of our intensive care unit is occupied by critically-ill patients with COVID pneumonia. We had to reopen a COVID-dedicated medical unit and have shut down all surgeries except the most urgent to redeploy staff to COVID-related care areas.”

Staff are also getting ill, officials say, making the situation worse.

“The combination of increased patients and stretched staffing is making it difficult to manage the clinical loads. We have almost five times the usual number of staff on sick leave and we have many working double shifts and cancelling much-needed vacations.”

And Bluewater Health says the unvaccinated are those most severely ill – in every age range.

“We are having end-of-life discussions with families of patients in all age categories, not just older ages.”

Across the province, hospitals are facing the same problems. The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance said yesterday it’s critical care unit is full and patients have been transferred to London for care

While the Omicron variant doesn’t cause severe illness in most people – particularly if they’re vaccinated – the sheer number of people ill means more people are ending up in the hospital.

Lambton Public Health reports today there are over 1,200 people ill with COVID-19 in the community.

The rapid spread of the variant is also hitting the most vulnerable in long term care. In Lambton, there are seven COVID-19 outbreaks, all in long term care. Sumac Lodge in Sarnia has nine residents ill as well as staff members.

Fiddicks in Petrolia, Trillium Villa, Afton Place, Rosewood Retirement Community, Marshall Gowland Manor and Vision Nursing Home are all reporting cases in both residents and health care workers today.

Across the province, 254 long term care homes – up 47 in the last two days and 118 retirement homes are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. In the last two days, three residents have died due to the virus. In almost all of the outbreaks, both staff and residents are ill.

The outbreaks are despite the fact the provincial government has limited all but one essential care giver from entering into long term care homes.