Ellis talks local COVID-19 status, vaccinations, hopes for Hospital Gala 2021

·3 min read

LISTOWEL-WINGHAM – At the last Listowel Wingham Hospital Alliance (LWHA) board meeting it was noted that within the southwest region hospital occupancy levels remain manageable, but that the Ontario Hospital Association and health forecasters remain concerned about the impact of the third wave on the health care system.

“Huron-Perth is in a relatively better situation compared to some areas of the province but what is happening is because of ICUs, mostly the Greater Toronto Area, being full, those patients are being transferred to hospitals in the southwest,” said LWHA Chief Executive Officer, Karl Ellis.

He said that means London and Stratford’s hospitals are taking patients from those hotspots and in turn, smaller hospitals in Huron-Perth will be taking patients from London and Stratford to make sure there is enough capacity.

“It’s a shifting of patients around the province,” he said.

Vaccination supplies in Huron and Perth continue to improve. Until there is a predictable supply of vaccination available, Huron Perth Public Health intends to focus efforts on providing clinics in Stratford and Goderich. Moving the clinics daily to other locations with an uncertain supply of vaccine is a logistical challenge.

“There is one pharmacy in Listowel now that is offering vaccinations – the Remedy RX at Zehrs so that is an option for people locally,” said Ellis. “The province is working to try to get more vaccines to the hot spots. That helps all of us in the province because it is in those areas where the people are getting sick and needing care and so if they can get vaccines into those hotspots it will be beneficial to all of us in the province.”

While most of the current clinics do require some travel, residents have been reporting that the clinics run very efficiently. More locations will be implemented once supply increases. Local Family Health Teams also have some access to vaccines.

“I believe they are targeting patients in certain age groups and some patients that are housebound and unable to get out to clinics so they are working away at that,” said Ellis.

Pandemic response positions have been extended to Sept. 30 at the hospitals ensuring all patients and visitors are screened for COVID-related symptoms before entry. Staff continue to self-screen before entering the hospital and managers continue to audit staff compliance with self-screening.

The pandemic has resulted in some financial uncertainty for both local hospitals. A notification from the Ministry of Health indicated they will provide funding to offset the loss of revenues as a result of the pandemic. Listowel is eligible for up to $100,500 of funding and Wingham up to $41,400.

The Listowel Memorial Hospital Foundation continues to plan for Gala 2021, scheduled to take place on Sept. 25. Proceeds from this 10th-anniversary gala are earmarked to replace a mammography imaging machine. The fundraising goal is $350,000. Corporate dollars canvassed to date are $255,000.

“I think like anybody else we’re hoping for a somewhat normal summer and a return to normal life in the fall and the gala will have to adjust or adapt depending on what the COVID situation is in the province so fingers crossed we’re able to hold that event but the committee that is working hard on it will make their decision a bit closer to the date,” said Ellis. “The hope and desire for all of us that we have some sense of normalcy soon but right now that doesn’t look like it’s over – we’ve got a ways to go before we get back there for sure.”

Ellis recommends HPPH.ca as the best source for local COVID-19 case information.

Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner