RVH has opened second COVID unit, expanded field hospital

RVH President and CEO says community spread of the virus is impacting staff and physicians

News release – from Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre community message from President and CEO Janice Skot

The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for everyone, but hospitals, including Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH), have never experienced anything like what we are currently facing.

Rapidly increasing hospitalizations, along with an unprecedented staffing shortage, has resulted in a “one-two punch” creating sustained pressure on hospitals.

As the Omicron variant rages across our region, the number of COVID-patients in our health centre has more than quadrupled since Christmas. To ensure we have enough beds for these sick patients, RVH has opened a second COVID unit and expanded space in its regional Pandemic Response Unit field hospital. We are ready to open more critical care beds, if needed. 

As hospitalizations increase, some patients may need to be transferred to – or from – RVH to balance the system and keep over-burdened hospitals functioning effectively. During last spring’s wave, 220 patients were transferred to RVH from the GTA.

Community spread of the virus is also impacting RVH staff and physicians, with 250 off work each day because they are sick, have tested positive or have been exposed to a COVID case. The situation changes quickly, so we monitor and adjust staffing continuously. 

As directed by the province, RVH has temporarily paused all non-emergency surgeries and procedures, and many clinic visits have been replaced by virtual consultations. We know this is very frustrating for people who have already been waiting a long time for their procedures, but it allows RVH to free up beds and redeploy staff to areas where the need is most urgent.

We also made the difficult decision to further restrict visitors to limit entry to the health centre and control spread of the virus.

Despite the incredibly demanding circumstances, RVH’s exhausted staff and physicians are doing their absolute best to care for you, working long hours and additional shifts to ensure safe staffing levels. Please be understanding, be kind and treat them with the respect they deserve.

As we work through this current crisis, we also ask for your help.

If you do not need hospital-level care for your non-urgent health issue, please call your family doctor or visit a walk-in or urgent care clinic. Remember, RVH’s Emergency Department (ED) does not provide COVID testing. And please be patient; the growing number of hospitalizations means waits in our ED may be lengthy.

RVH continues to operate its Immunization Clinic at 29 Sperling Drive in Barrie. If you are not yet fully vaccinated, book an appointment as soon as possible through the provincial online portal at covid-19.ontario.ca or by calling 1-833-943-3900.

While the swift and unpredictable impact of the Omicron variant is far worse than anticipated, be assured that RVH continues to do everything possible to keep our patients – and their care teams – safe. Thank you for your outstanding support, appreciation and encouragement over the past two years.

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