'People are tired, but the virus is not', warns Chief of Staff at Alliston hospital
BARRIE, ONT. -- CTV's Craig Momney speaks with Dr. Barry Nathanson, Chief of Staff at Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston:
Craig Momney - With your experience in critical care, what are you seeing right now?
Dr. Barry Nathanson - We're seeing critical care units fill up across the province, and in my direct purview, I'm seeing the units that I oversee and work in filling up with patients unfortunately with COVID who are younger, on average, and who are, as we've heard in other outlets of the media getting sicker more quickly and of course the impact of that is far and wide on other medical programs and surgical programs throughout the province.
Craig Momney - The Canadian Medical Association is issuing an urgent call for unprecedented measures. Hospitals are again redeploying staff and calling for help with growing staff shortages. Are ICUs already being overwhelmed?
Dr. Barry Nathanson - I guess that depends on the definition of overwhelmed. One way to look at that might be the staff who have been working in critical care units over the past year to fourteen months are very much depleted and, in some measures, demoralized and certainly exhausted. Many have left, and we are bringing in new staff all the time to the best of our ability. So in that sense, there's been a chronic overwhelming of staff in critical care.
We're also seeing units overwhelmed in the sense that we have patients who are spilling over and outside of critical care units or at least the traditional ones where we provide care to these kinds of patients. And it's spilling into coronary units and cardiovascular surgical units, and other kinds of units. We've even seen spill over into pediatric facilities like the hospital for sick children. So in that sense, yes, the units are overwhelmed.
Craig Momney - Modelling from the province suggests we could see alarming case counts by the end of May; how concerning is this?
Dr. Barry Nathanson - Terribly concerning. Many of us have been able to see this coming. The numbers have been there. All of us are out in the cities and highways, and we see the fact our highways are still largely full. The measures taken so far to try and stem this flow have not been as effective as anyone would have hoped or counted on. People are tired, yes, people are becoming resistant, yes, but the virus is not tired, the disease is ready, and it's looking for opportunity.
We are very concerned about these numbers to hold, and I'm sure that the toll that this takes on not only the providers of health care in this province but on the receivers of health care and of the bystanders who are going to watch this unfold, the toll is going to be immense, and we're very concerned, and we would be willing I'm sure to recommend any measure possible be taken to avoid the outcomes that we're staring straight in the eye right now.
Craig Momney - If people really start to compy, how long before we see results?
Dr. Barry Nathanson - Couple of weeks. If we really had an awakening today of those who are uncertain. If we had an awakening of those, who are inclined to push the boundaries or to say, 'it's not me, it's them,' or 'I can get away with this just once,' or if we had an awakening amongst those who for reasons that are beyond all of us actually are speaking and lobbying against these necessary and life-saving measures if all of that stopped today, it would still take at least two weeks to see a big difference and even then, the virus is still looking for opportunities. So, minimum two weeks, and that's the best-case scenario.