'By the time they reach the ICU they know they should have gotten their shot,' RVH physician says
While hospitals in western Canada are reaching their breaking point, officials with Barrie's hospital say vaccinations are the way to avoid an uncontrollable surge.
As of Thursday afternoon, four patients were being treated for COVID-19 at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) in Barrie, none in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
"We're seeing what Alberta and parts of the province are seeing that unvaccinated patients are coming in and getting sick," says Dr. Chris Martin, the director of critical care at RVH.
"Right now, it's a slow trickle, which is manageable, and we're hoping it stays like that."
The situation is much worse in Alberta, with hospital staff concerned over potentially running out of ICU beds and staff within 10 days.
Martin says he's thankful most of the residents in Simcoe Muskoka have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but says those rates need to continue to improve.
"If we don't increase our vaccination rates, we could still be in a position like we were in the third wave where we were as close to being overwhelmed and not having enough beds as you ever want to get," says Martin.
"I'm hopeful that with the vaccine passports and the other changes that people have changed their minds and those who didn't get their shots will get it, and hopefully we can avoid that," he adds.
Martin says during the fourth wave, staff at RVH have noticed a change in the age of their patients and an increase in more severe cases.
He says they are treating more people in their 20's than they did in previous waves, noting most patients are unvaccinated.
Still, Martin says the level of care at the hospital remains the same.
"When you walk in the door here, whether you chose to get vaccinated or not, at this point, it doesn't matter," says Martin. "We're going to take amazing care of you. So we don't get into the why didn't you get vaccinated conversation because, by the time they reach the ICU, they know they should have gotten their shot."
Martin says that fatigue amongst staff remains a significant concern. While he is focused on motivating the team, he continues to encourage everyone to get vaccinated, saying if people saw what hospital staff saw, more people might be convinced to get vaccinated.
"They can't come in the room and talk to these patients, and they can't see the fear in their eyes and the family members who are crying, and that's the stuff I think that changes people's minds and we just can't show that," Martin finishes.