Five per cent of hospital staff off sick
Lambton Public Health is reporting two more deaths because of COVID-19 today as local hospital beds continue to fill with people with the virus.
Omicron is moving through the province, with public health officials telling people with any symptoms to assume they have the variant of COVID-19.
Lambton Public Health has recorded another 158 positive cases, although officials say the numbers are not accurate because of the limited PCR testing being done now. Only those who are medically vulnerable and health care workers are receiving the tests which positively confirm COVID-19.
Instead, public health officials are watching the number of people hospitalized from the virus. In Ontario today, a record 2,472 people are in care because of the virus – 338 are in the intensive care unit. That means about 200 people were admitted to hospital across the province with COVID-19 and another 19 are the ICUs.
In Lambton, Bluewater Health’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Mike Haddad, says 92 per cent of the beds are full with the medical unit caring for more people than originally designed. There are 29 active cases of COVID-19 in the hospital with 10 in the ICU. He says 80 per cent of the people in the ICU with COVID were not vaccinated.
Lambton Public Health says there are at least 1,368 people ill with COVID-19, however in a news conference yesterday Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade said it is estimated the actual number of cases is likely four to five times higher, meaning between 5,400 and 6,800 people have the virus in Lambton now.
That’s concerning to Haddad since eventually some of those people will also end up at Bluewater Health.
“The hospitalizations usually lag behind the community spread a couple of weeks, so as the numbers are going up, numbers are starting to creep up in the hospital as well,” he says.
Haddad says with about 85 per cent of the people in Lambton vaccinated and because the Omicron variant seems to make fewer people seriously ill, the caseload has not yet overwhelmed the Sarnia and Petrolia hospitals. But he says, for health care workers, it appears “we’re almost back to square one.”
Complicating the situation is the fact many health care workers are also exposed to COVID-19 in the community. Haddad says sick calls from staff have quadrupled with about five per cent of the staff on sick leave now. “That’s sizeable. It does affect our operation but so far we have been maintaining the same level of services,” he says.
“We’re maintaining the medical services by asking staff to work more overtime, double time and canceling elective (surgery) cases, so we deployed the surgical programs staff to help everybody else.”
Haddad says there is concern the number of people hospitalized in this wave of illness will continue to grow. He urges people to stay at home as much as possible and particularly stay away from social gatherings.
And Haddad says your best protection from serious illness is to be vaccinated.