Windsor's COVID-19 assessment centre expanded to all patients with flu-like illnesses

Windsor Regional Hospital's Ouellette campus is shown in a file photo. The COVID-19 assessment centre at the hospital will see other respiratory illness patients as of Monday. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
Windsor Regional Hospital's Ouellette campus is shown in a file photo. The COVID-19 assessment centre at the hospital will see other respiratory illness patients as of Monday. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

With emergency rooms under pressure, Windsor Regional Hospital is offering its COVID-19 assessment centre to people who have any influenza-like illness, not just COVID-19.

The hospital says adults and children with respiratory illnesses can visit the centre at the Ouellette campus. The move will comes as health-care system faces what the hospital called a "significant strain" due to an early flu season, an uptick in the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) affecting children, and continued COVID-19 cases.

David Musyj, the hospital's president, asked that people try their primary care provider or other clinics first. He also said that anyone with an emergency should still go to the emergency room.

"This is just another piece in that puzzle to try to help overall with the needs of our community," he said.

The centre's expansion takes effect Monday and patients will be seen by appointment only. The hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Katerina Georgieva/CBC
Katerina Georgieva/CBC

Surge in patients

The rise in respiratory illness is putting pressure on the health-care system across the province.

On Monday, Ontario's Chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, strongly recommended that people start to wear masks in all indoor public settings, including in schools and child-care settings. But Moore stopped short of recommending a return to a mask mandate in the province.

At a news conference, Moore said the province's health system is facing "extraordinary pressures" with the ongoing circulation of COVID-19, the earlier-than-normal rise in RSV, as well as influenza.

"What we are facing is a triple threat that requires our collective action and action to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, the very young, the very old and those with underlying medical issues and to ensure that our health-care system remains able to care for Ontarians when they need it," Moore said.

At Windsor Regional Hospital, the number of pediatric patients at the hospital fluctuates but has gotten as high as 125 per cent capacity, Musyj said. For adults, the hospital is at 100 per cent capacity.

COVID-19 is not the main driver at the moment — the pediatric patients are largely have RSV and others have influenza — but Musyj stressed that it's still early in the season and another surge in COVID-19 could come in January.

"We are definitely nowhere near out of the woods," he said.