MANITOULIN—While the holiday season was very busy for the Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) in terms of the number of emergency department visits from people with respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) a virus that typically affects children, the Island hospitals did not surpass patient capacity.
“We were pretty busy over the holidays with a lot more people coming in with illnesses and mental health issues, which is pretty normal at this time of the year,” said Dr. Stephen Cooper, chief of staff of MHC. “But we were able to keep the doors open. We were close to capacity a couple of times but were never over capacity or felt the really long wait times for patients that many other hospital emergency departments had to face.”
Dr. Cooper pointed out that the Little Current site was lucky to have a couple of locum doctors who were very helpful in dealing with the high patient numbers.
Recently a new subvariant of COVID-19, dubbed ‘Kraken,’ has seen very high numbers of patients in the US. It is predicted that the number of COVID patients with this subvariant in the US will increase significantly and could have the same impacts in Canada.
“Like I said with all variants, vaccinations provide good coverage to stem these numbers,” said Dr. Cooper. “We all need to make our own choices and use the knowledge we have accumulated. That is the way we are going to manage these new variants.”
Dr. Cooper also explained, “at the OMA (Ontario Medical Association) we are continuing to negotiate with the government to ensure we have the right mix of physicians for areas like ours. An announcement on this was expected by January 1, but this has been delayed for two months. We feel it might make a difference by having more bodies on hand to deal with the increasing complexities of health care. And the OMA and Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) feel nurse practitioners can give primary care, and some specialize in emergency medicine. On Manitoulin Island some of the nurse practitioners are taking on roles in nursing homes.”