Media Update on TBRHSC’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response
by Marcello Bernardo
Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) is proactively taking further measures to ensure the safest possible environment for patients and staff as the Hospital sees an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients.
As of today, there are 15 patients admitted to TBRHSC who are COVID-19 positive. Of those, two are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Our current medical / surgical hospital occupancy is at approximately 91.9% and our ICU occupancy is at 77.3%.
While COVID cases are surging, it is imperative that the people of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario, and our health care partners, clearly know TBRHSC is open and serving anyone requiring urgent care. Our focus in our proactive measures is ensuring that continuity of care moving forward.
TBRHSC’s Incident Management Team (IMT) continues to meet daily given the fast-changing nature of COVID-19, provincial regulations, and their impact on operations. Ensuring the availability of specialized acute care services is a priority and we are prepared to respond at all times.
The proactive measures we’re currently taking include:
- Opening a dedicated COVID-19 Care Unit on 3B to allow patients to be cared for in a specific type of setting that keeps them and others safe
- Reducing the allowable number of Essential Care Partners – Inpatients and outpatients will be granted one ECP unless indicated otherwise
- Pausing non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures as per Ministry Directive #2 – Patients impacted by this change will be contacted.
- In alignment with Ministry of Health Guidance, and in order to preserve our health human resources, we are adjusting our Assessment Centre operations to support high-risk settings, and specific setting populations.
In addition, the decision was made to declare an outbreak on 3A in collaboration with Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU). The Ontario Ministry of Health defines a COVID-19 outbreak in a public hospital as: Two or more laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases (patients and/or staff) within a specified area (unit/floor/service) within a 14-day period where both cases could have reasonably acquired their infection in the hospital. We are conducting a thorough assessment of the situation and aligning our supports to enhance surveillance and testing activities. Anyone considered to be at risk will be notified.
To support our increased Emergency Department (ED) volumes and acuity, we are asking for our community’s assistance to ensure those who need our emergency care, can receive it immediately. If you visit the ED, you will be seen based on the severity of your illness. Patients are seen based on an assessment of individual illness including many community members who arrive by ambulance. As a result of high volumes, this will likely mean longer than normal waiting times for less severe illness. If you have mild COVID-19 symptoms, you may wish to call your primary care provider or TeleHealth Ontario for advice on managing mild COVID-19 symptoms at home.
If you think you have COVID-19 but are not experiencing symptoms or have mild symptoms (similar to a cold or flu), please do not come to the ED for testing. Our ED is not a COVID-19 testing centre, and coming in risks exposing vulnerable people to the coronavirus.
Our Hospital’s internal COVID-19 pandemic response is at Level Red (Control). Plans are in place to shift our response activities to adapt our bed capacity and staffing needs as the situation requires.