'The perfect storm': 230 RVH staff off work with hospital overcapacity
The region's largest hospital is dealing with a substantial staffing shortage and limited bed capacity due to COVID-19.
"It's a pretty challenging situation in the health centre [right] now," said Dr. Jeff Tyberg, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) chief of staff.
Tyberg noted the considerable impact the virus caused to the Barrie hospital's workforce.
"A significant number of staff are off ill, either because they have tested positive for COVID or they've been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID."
As of Thursday, 230 of the hospital's 3,500 staff, including nurses and physicians, are off work due to illness and isolation.
Tyberg said the hospital is at 115 per cent bed capacity,
"We have a large number of COVID patients. I think it's 37, in the health centre today." One infected patient is in intensive care.
But the number of COVID-19 patients isn't the biggest issue, according to Tyberg; the outbreaks within the community are impacting the hospital bed shortage.
Seniors who would typically go into long-term care are occupying hospital beds because dozens of homes with outbreaks can't accept new admissions or transfers.
In Simcoe Muskoka, the health unit lists 91 active outbreaks, including 40 seniors' homes.
"It's sort of the perfect storm of creating a very large backlog of patients in acute care beds that might be better served in another place," Tyberg said.
RVH RAMPS DOWN SERVICES
Under the province's directive, the hospital has ramped down services, pausing non-urgent procedures and surgeries.
RVH's chief of staff recommended eligible residents get their third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and follow public health guidelines, such as isolating at the onset of symptoms.
On Thursday, the Simcoe Muskoka health unit reports 358 new COVID-19 cases.
"There is no guarantee that having two doses will keep you out of the hospital and keep you out of ICU, so if you're eligible for the booster, certainly you should get one," Tyberg said.
RVH is making good use of its 70-bed Pandemic Response Unit and will continue to accept patients from smaller regional hospitals struggling with staffing issues and patient overloads.
Regardless of its staffing issues, Tyberg emphasized that the hospital accepts patients with urgent health care needs at the emergency department and urged those people not to hesitate to seek medical attention.