Grey Bruce top doc warns of reduced capacity at area hospitals

·3 min read

Residents need to remain vigilant with COVID-19 safety protocols moving forward, if for no other reason than to help maintain capacity at local hospitals, said Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health for the Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU).

“We definitely need to be concerned, relative to our population and relative to our hospital capacity,” Arra said during a Grey County committee of the whole meeting held on Thursday.

Currently, there is no one being hospitalized due to COVID-19 in the GBHU. However, according to Arra, right now there is very little space in area hospitals due to the backlog of surgeries that were delayed during the pandemic closure period.

“Although we don't have COVID cases [in hospital], we are at a high capacity,” Arra said. “Locally without [COVID] cases, 100 per cent, or over 100 per cent in some cases, capacity in the hospitals is used.”

The GBHU has seen a cumulative total of 205 COVID-19 cases. Of the 205 total cases, 172 are recovered and 13 cases have been referred to other health units.

Currently in the region, there are 20 active cases of COVID-19. However, there are no active hospitalizations or outbreaks in any long-term care facilities, daycares or schools in GBHU.

GBHU is also one of the only health units in Ontario to have no deaths as a result of COVID-19.

“We are in good standing, however, we need to be very concerned because this concern is what kept us engaged and in action to provide safety for all of us,” Arra added.

He says the second wave of COVID-19 has reached Grey-Bruce and it is hitting harder than the first wave.

“The doubling of the number of cases has made it clear that there was a growth in the outbreak, so the wave is real, it's not a reflection of more testing,” Arra said.

“In the Spring, we used to find two to three people or close contacts in each case. Currently, it's not uncommon to find 20 or 30 people or close contacts per case. So, that's another metric that is showing there is more transmission,” he continued.

Arra points to a recent outbreak in the South Bruce Peninsula, that was reported on Oct. 27.

“In the South Bruce Peninsula, one case generated 10 cases, and the whole cluster generated over 130 to 140 close contacts. This is a totally different scenario from the first wave and it's definitely more severe,” Arra said.

He added that following up with 140 close contacts can cause a lot of anxiety for communities, as well as creating financial hardships for those required to quarantine for the 14-day period.

"If we continue to have what we have, people lowering their guard for the sake of having a party for a couple of hours, we end up with this much greater threat to the community," Arra said.

Lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Nov. 13 in Grey County included - Owen Sound (65); Southgate (18); Grey Highlands (18); Meaford (13); West Grey (11); Blue Mountains (10); Hanover (8); Georgian Bluffs (2); Chatsworth (1). Bruce County has had 59 confirmed cases.

Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca