Thunder Bay regional hospital tightens restrictions due to rising COVID-19 cases

·2 min read
Nurses move through the bustling halls of the emergency department at Scarborough General Hospital, in north-east Toronto, on April 8, 2021. Similar sights can be found in northwestern Ontario, where multiple hospitals are facing COVID-19 outbreaks. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Nurses move through the bustling halls of the emergency department at Scarborough General Hospital, in north-east Toronto, on April 8, 2021. Similar sights can be found in northwestern Ontario, where multiple hospitals are facing COVID-19 outbreaks. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

A rise in COVID-19 cases at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC), the largest hospital in northwestern Ontario, has pushed the hospital to tighten its restrictions again.

The hospital is now in the Orange-Restrict phase of its internal pandemic response, signalling a change to some guidelines for essential-care partners.

"It has been a long and overwhelming two years, and for some people, tolerance for COVID-19 precautions is wearing thin. As an acute-care facility, we must remain diligent in protecting our most vulnerable and our staff at all times," reads a hospital statement posted Friday.

"In order to protect our vulnerable patients and our staff, and to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, it is necessary for us to limit the number of people entering our facility."

Essential-care partner access has been reduced to two per day, with only one person allowed at bedside at a time. The hospital said there may be exceptions to this rule under special circumstances.

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

Hospitals across Canada also face other pandemic-related challenges, including staffing shortages.

The president and chief executive officer of the Ontario Hospital Association said the organization understands that many Ontario hospitals are experiencing "an unprecedented escalation of staffing pressures right now," and are working to develop temporary measures to help maintain services.

"At this critical time, it is essential that everyone stand together and work to have a 'Team Ontario' approach to address the very challenging issues facing the health-care system," said Anthony Dale.

Hospitals have said severe staff shortages, along with COVID-19 infections and burnout among health-care workers, are to blame for the temporary closures.

Outbreaks impact multiple regional hospitals

Officials at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre said Monday there's been a rise in the number of admissions to both the medical surgical units and critical care.

As of Monday, 33 patients admitted to the hospital were COVID-19 positive. Of those, one is in intensive care. There is also one confirmed outbreak of the virus at the TBRHSC within the 1A Medical and Acute Oncology Unit.

Elsewhere in the region, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit is reporting a COVID-19 outbreak in the acute-care unit at the Geraldton District Hospital.

The Northwestern Health Unit is also reporting three active outbreaks within hospital settings in the region.