COVID-19 and Summer in the ER
We all want to believe that it’s just-another-summer: hot days and bright blue skies, sunny beaches, warmer water for swimming, and the deck should be filled with family and friends.
West Parry Sound Health Centre wants to remind everyone in our community that this is NOT just-another-summer.
We remain in the midst of a pandemic outbreak.
Nowhere in our local health care system is this more obvious than in our Emergency Department.
Everyone in West Parry Sound can maintain confidence that the Emergency Department at your local hospital continues to be a safe and reliable place to receive emergency and urgent care.
Do not let fear of COVID-19 delay your call to 911. Do not let a sense of caution postpone a prompt and safe trip to ER.
We have thoughtfully planned and we are prepared to safely provide urgent and emergency care under the unprecedented circumstance made necessary by the pandemic.
Read the attached document to learn more about The Summer of COVID-19 in our ER: additional precautions and patient screening, only essential visitors allowed, mask wearing requirements, expectation of longer wait times, and there will not be a non-urgent care clinic.
Please avoid risk and also avoid an unnecessary trip to the ER by having a plan that supports your ongoing care needs.
Restarting services - Message to Our Community
There are many things we would like our community to know about restarting scheduled and elective procedures and other patient care programs at West Parry Sound Health Centre.
We recognize that our reduced delivery of care has caused pain, discomfort, and worry for many patients and families. We are sympathetic to the needs of our community. Limiting our services and programs at WPSHC was in response to a provincial requirement directed at all hospitals in Ontario. This requirement was described in COVID-19 Provincial Directive #2, issued very early in the pandemic.
We have never stopped providing urgent and necessary care, but we also recognize that many patients have had their care delayed and indefinitely postponed. We want our community to know that all hospitals are facing significant barriers. At WPSHC, we are doing everything we can to move closer to delivering the Patient and Family Centred Care that our community benefited from prior to the arrival of COVID-19.
As a first step, the provincial government has now changed the conditions described in Directive #2.
In itself, this does not allow your community hospital to resume ‘business as usual.’ It signals that we can begin to finalize a thoughtful plan to gradually ramp-up our services and programs. Every hospital in Ontario is required to have a facility-specific ‘service resumption plan’ approved by regional authorities. There are 127 acute care hospitals in Ontario; every plan will be required to align with provincial and regional services. This recognizes that our health care system across the full continuum of care is a complicated network of different patient pathways, specialties, sub-specialties, and unique local capabilities. Our delivery of care in West Parry Sound is directly linked with our larger partner hospitals providing specialized care in cancer, cardiac, serious trauma, and advanced surgeries.
Prior to COVID-19 this intricate system was working, though imperfectly, with a high degree of coordination. That equilibrium will be difficult to re-establish; and however we define this ‘new normal,’ for better and worse, it will never look like the system we have left behind. The constraints imposed by scarcity, contagion, and the need for heightened protection are not going away.
Here at WPSHC we must meet the same base-level conditions that will be required at all hospitals in Ontario. That includes: the full complement of staff, physicians, and supporting departments that work cooperatively to deliver safe, quality care; a long-range and dependable supply of personal protective equipment, medications, and the tools and devices that make care possible; the space and resources needed to care for both urgent and scheduled patients while also reserving capacity to successfully care for patients who might come in the current, or next wave of COVID-19. All hospitals will meet these challenges with differing levels of success. In every community across the province, hospital services will resume in kind with uniquely different patterns of care.
If we could, we would: flip a switch that returns us to normal. We need our community to know that it will not be that simple.
We are confidently seeking the cooperation of our provincial and regional health care partners, strongly advocating for solutions that resolve global system scarcities, and working collaboratively to overcome the local challenges that are not insurmountable. The problem is complex, it is without precedent, and it involves numerous people and organizations who all share common interest in the thoughtful and timely resumption of full patient services.
As scheduled and elective procedures and patient care programs restart in our community, more information, when available, will be provided to patients who have had care rescheduled or delayed. If your symptoms have changed significantly, please reach out to the clinic involved in your care.
To all patients and families, please trust that we are doing everything we can to provide the best care possible for the communities we are privileged to serve.
Chief of Staff, Dr. Terence Fargher
CEO, Donald Sanderson
APPOINTMENT IS REQUIRED at COVID-19 testing centre
West Parry Sound Health Centre, supported by members of the local medical community, is now operating a COVID-19 Assessment Centre located in the Parry Sound Mall. Appointments are necessary and access is only from the rear of the building.
The clinic’s purpose is to assess and, only where appropriate, test people who may be infected with COVID-19. Operation of the clinic will also reduce the number of patients visiting the Emergency Department at WPSHC.
Patient visits at the Assessment Centre are by appointment only. For safety reasons, ‘walk-in’ appointments are strictly prohibited. Not everyone who calls or attends the clinic will be tested.
Individuals meeting the criteria below may call the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at 705-746-4540 extension 5030 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days per week.
When calling, the patient must give basic information and will be assessed based on the COVID-19 Assessment Centre’s guidelines established by Ontario Health.
Individuals with general questions should not call the Assessment Centre. Please contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, or the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, 1-800-563-2808, or visit online at www.myhealthunit.ca
Not all patients attending the Assessment Centre will be tested, such as patients who meet the criteria and have mild illness.
West Parry Sound Health Centre’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre is funded and approved by the Ministry of Health and is a result of proactive and collaborative planning with our partners at North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit and Ontario Health North.
Please stay safe during the pandemic
At West Parry Sound Health Centre we are always prepared to meet the health care needs of everyone who relies on our care and service.
In addition to the usual limitations associated with COVID-19 preparedness and response, please know that as we prepare to enter our summer season, we are functioning under significant restrictions. Many of these restrictions are required by provincial authorities; other limitations are the result of scarcity of resources: people, supplies (including personal protective equipment,) treatment equipment, and space.
The health centre continues to provide care while working in a very fragile state. We see this continuing throughout the summer.
We are extremely thankful for the ongoing generosity of our seasonal property owners. Proportionally, and by value, they are the biggest donors supporting health care services in West Parry Sound.
We ask that our seasonal residents and all visitors come prepared and committed to ‘tread lightly’ on all of the public infrastructure services that we collectively rely on.
We also offer additional advice in the attachment below: