Cornwall hospital juggles surge in sick sufferers as workers scarcity drags on


There aren’t any speeches or ceremonies being held within the auditorium at Cornwall Neighborhood Hospital.

With the well being care facility operating over-capacity, the auditorium has been became a brand new ward with cubicles for 11 sufferers.

Proper subsequent door, the speech remedy and occupational remedy rooms are getting used to create 4 extra beds, but the director of the acute drugs division says house stays a problem.

“It’s nonetheless very a lot overflowing,” Paula Sleeman says.

Cornwall Neighborhood Hospital (CCH) is the most important hospital within the Jap Ontario Well being Unit. It’s a largely rural area south of Ottawa, tucked up towards the Quebec border.

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The Omicron wave has hit the area and the hospital laborious. Area is just one problem.

This week, 38 workers members are off sick with COVID-19. Final week it was 50, and it’s been as excessive as 75.

In current weeks, Sleeman says staffing has been such an issue it’s been, at occasions, unsafe. The acute drugs division would usually have 12 nurses on obligation, however on some days as many as 5 have been off sick. The division had a stretch of about 10 days when Sleeman says the patient-to-nurse ratio made it laborious to ship care safely.

“It has reached that degree,” Sleeman says. “Knock on wooden, we’re not there this week.”

The hospital has created a “redeployment committee” that appears at what’s wanted and the way holes will be crammed. One in every of its current artistic options has simply been prolonged. The committee moved an worker who usually works in an off-site warehouse to the acute drugs division. The lady’s deployment was initially to be for simply two weeks, however has been prolonged one other two.

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CCH was one of many first hospitals in Canada to begin planning for COVID-19. In February 2020, when Canadian vacationers have been uncovered on cruise ships in Japan, a few of them have been quarantined in Cornwall on the NAV Canada facility simply three minutes from the hospital.

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“We’re going into 12 months three now,” says nurse Kelsey Lauzon. “It’s exhausting, and it doesn’t look like there’s an finish in sight.”

The hospital’s intensive care division has been overwhelmed as effectively. Dr. Paul Westergaard, chief of the vital care unit, says his division has 13 sufferers in a 12-bed unit. The additional affected person is being cared for on one other ground.

“We’re over capability day-after-day,” Westergaard says. “It’s been this fashion for the previous few weeks.”

Pre-pandemic, the ICU would have sufferers recovering from surgical procedures. With Ontario suspending all non-urgent elective surgical procedure, these post-op sufferers aren’t there — COVID-19 sufferers have taken their place.

“This weekend, we hit 100 per cent COVID sufferers,” Westergaard says. “That’s a document for us.”


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One a part of the hospital that feels virtually deserted is the hallway the place operations are carried out. CCH has six working rooms; proper now just one is getting used. Medical tools that might usually be within the working rooms is within the hallway as a substitute. Dr. Garry Weinberg, the chief of surgical procedure, says the scene is surreal.

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“My hallway ought to be busy and bustling,” Weinberg says. “As a substitute, there’s a ghost city. It’s apocalyptic, in a method.”

Many of the OR workers has been redeployed to different flooring. Weinberg says sacrificing surgical procedures needed to be achieved. The hospital wanted to maneuver his workers to maintain operating, however it was painful.

“In some ways,” he says, “we’re reducing off the arm to let the remainder of the physique survive.”

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Weinberg says there’s a push by some surgeons within the province to discover a extra applicable time period than “elective surgical procedures.” Utilizing the phrase “elective,” he says, implies they’re a selection. He suggests it might be higher to confer with “scheduled surgical procedures,” so the general public and politicians might perceive their significance.

“They’re completely mandatory,” Weinberg says. “Surgical procedure has been scheduled, and now we’ve unscheduled it for over two years.”

Weinberg says vital procedures are being delayed, and docs’ skills to detect issues early have been blunted. Issues like breast cancers and colon cancers are being discovered later than pre-pandemic — one thing that always means extra superior chemo and radiation therapies.

“Individuals will find yourself passing away,” Weinberg says, “for sure, due to the delay in screening and delay in getting remedy.”

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One other problem for CCH has been outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term care amenities. The hospital has sufferers who’ve recovered from COVID-19 and different illnesses, however who can’t be moved to their LTC residence due to outbreaks there. The hospital usually has about 30 sufferers ready to be moved. Proper now that quantity is over 60.

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