Wellington County hospitals taking on outside COVID patients to assist hard-hit regions

·2 min read

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Wellington County hospitals are beginning to take in COVID patients from outside the region in an effort to ease the strain on the province’s healthcare system capacity.

Alison Armstrong, communications manager for the Wellington Health Care Alliance (WHCA), confirmed by email one COVID positive patient has been transferred from a GTA hospital to Groves Memorial Community Hospital in Aboyne so far.

Stephen Street, CEO of WHCA, said the third wave has brought new challenges to the healthcare system through variants of concern.

“It is a very different virus and it impacts people at a younger age, so people become sicker and it spreads faster,” Street said.

“That is increasing admissions to hospitals and in particular the ICUs. That’s probably the greatest change that we’ve seen from previous waves.”

There are no ICU beds at the three county hospitals so they are taking on those who don’t yet require that level of care.

“We have acute medicine beds that are caring for those patients right now who are required to be admitted to the hospital but as soon as they require a higher level of care...they would transfer to another site,” Street said.

Across the WHCA system, there are officially 75 beds, but from the provincial directive to scale back non-urgent procedures, Street said that frees up another 26 beds bringing the total just over 100.

Although there are three active hospitals in the region, the old Groves Hospital in Fergus, referred to as Legacy Groves, remains standing is currently used as a COVID assessment centre.

Street said that site is an option in a worst-case scenario emergency but there is no plan to use it to increase capacity.

The new Groves Hospital is a better facility for any surge.

“We can increase our capacity here in a much safer fashion and it’s much easier to coordinate the supplies, the physicians, the staff around increased beds here because the building is 50 per cent larger than the Legacy Groves site,” Street said.

He said he knows the public is growing tired of the public health measures but they remain necessary from a hospital perspective.

“Our goal is to keep the health system available for when you need it and what’s happening now is as the volume of COVID patients coming through our door increases, it’s requiring hospitals to reduce services and that’s not good,” Street said.

“We need to get our daily case counts down to a more manageable level...to maintain urgent services across the hospital system because in many parts of the province, they are near a breaking point.”

Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com