Nationwide trends of increased respiratory illness in children hitting MHC’s two ERs

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MANITOULIN—Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) has seen an increase in 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.

“We have definitely seen an increase in the volume of visits at our emergency department,” stated Dr. Stephen Cooper, chief of staff of MHC, last week. “And patients are seeing one-to two-hour additional wait times because of the increased volume of visits among kids and adults,” he said, noting numbers are similar to the normal increase in traffic in the summer.

Dr. Cooper explained, “we have seen an increase in emergency department visits and consultations with paediatricians and transfers of patients to Sudbury that have been here at the Island hospitals.”

“We normally don’t have as many sick children (at the emergency,” said Dr. Cooper. “And now we regularly see one or two patients needing oxygen support (daily).”

“It does make it more difficult,” said Dr. Cooper, who noted the MHC, “hasn’t been over capacity as has been seen in hospitals in southern Ontario, where they have gone over 100 percent capacity. We have been at 100 percent capacity but not over capacity so far.”

Dr. Cooper said MHC hospital staff at both Island sites have been extremely efficient during these difficult times and people are knowledgeable and have been recovering at home where possible. “It is definitely a team effort.”

Dr. Cooper continued, “I do know flu vaccinations are available on the Island and I would encourage people to get their vaccinations if they haven’t already. People can and have died from the flu, and without getting vaccinated people might not have the flu but they could spread symptoms to someone who is immunocompromised.”

He also noted there is a fifth COVID-19 vaccine available on the Island. Getting vaccinated, “is a great way to keep the virus from spreading.”

As for masking Dr. Cooper said, “masking is a personal choice for everyone. For those immunocompromised, it’s a good idea to mask. You can spread a virus to other people. If you are healthy and around a group of people in a larger area who you know are also healthy you probably don’t need to mask up, but if you are in a smaller surrounding and with people you don’t know you should probably wear a mask.”