Situation in hospital ICUs improving

·3 min read

SBGHC – South Bruce Grey Health Centre CEO Michael Barrett said in his report to the hospital board that the situation across the province with intensive care units (ICUs) is improving.

It’s one of several positive signs. Locally, the number of people at the assessment centre in Kincardine is down to about 14 a day – a major change from September when traffic for the centre was backed up all the way to Kincardine’s main intersection.

One reason for the low number of people being tested is visitors to long-term care homes have access to rapid testing. The tests are also available at assessment centres along with traditional tests. The latter are now easier on the patient because they’re less invasive.

Test results come back much faster, he said. Capacity has been building across the province, and fewer people are being tested.

“For us, it’s basically travel time,” said Barrett.

He noted that the third wave proved to be quite different from the second wave in terms of its impact on the health-care and hospital systems.

“It has been challenging to maintain services,” he said.

When the board met in May, there were fears the total number of patients in ICUs could reach 1,500. It topped out at around 900, Barrett said, and is now “much better.”

The moving of patients from the GTA and Barrie to other hospitals, including this area, has stopped. That had led to the province ordering non-emergency and non-urgent surgeries to stop. As of May 19, hospitals were told surgeries could resume, as long as they were day or outpatient surgeries.

Barrett said, “Four days later, we were called to take patients from Manitoba – that province has 70 ICU beds, and had 134 intubated patients. Some were transferred to the United States; others were sent to southwestern Ontario hospitals (including Owen Sound) and Ottawa.

Surgeries have not resumed, and SBGHC continues to support the ICU in Owen Sound with a member of the Kincardine nursing staff.

“You think you’re around the corner and something else happens,” Barrett said.

He was asked about rapid tests being less accurate than the original test method.

Barrett referred the question to Angela Stanley, chief nursing executive. She explained that the rapid test now used in this area is more accurate, equivalent to the traditional method.

As for vaccination rates among staff, it stands at 86 per cent across the four hospital sites.

“We’re in good shape,” Barrett said. “It’s very high – I have yet to find a hospital with better numbers.”

In other hospital news

- The board of directors continues to work toward a 24-7 emergency department in Chesley but is not ready yet. Another public information session has been planned for June 21 at 7 p.m. To register for the session, or for instructions on how to connect, contact or 519-370-2400 ext. 2214.

- Board chair John Gilbert of Chesley is stepping down after seven years, the past two as chair. At the June 3 board meeting, he thanked the board and said, “This group of people is second to none.”

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times