Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH) is taking steps to address a temporary staffing shortage caused by COVID-19.
Nearly 40 staff have tested positive for the virus, primarily from household and community contacts, creating staffing shortages in several areas. CCH also anticipates more staff will test positive in the coming days as they await results at home.
In response, the hospital will be temporarily slowing down services in its operating rooms and will be prioritizing urgent surgeries. This was a recommendation to all hospitals in Ontario from the provincial government so that staff can be redeployed to other areas.
If possible, members of the community should save the Emergency Department for emergencies, and consider visiting family doctors and walk-in clinics for non-urgent reasons.
Emergency wait times may be longer than usual; please be kind and respectful with staff and physicians.
Please do not come to the Emergency Department for a COVID-19 test unless you also require medical attention as you may be turned away. New guidance from the provincial government says hospitals cannot provide PCR testing to asymptomatic individuals who do not require medical attention.
The government of Ontario also announced that public PCR tests will only be available for high-risk individuals who are symptomatic and/or at risk of severe illness from the coronavirus, instead of being widely available to anyone looking for a test.
Individuals who do not meet the above criteria should not call the Assessment Centre to book an appointment, and again, should not present themselves at the Emergency Department unless they require medical attention.
More information will be shared with the community from the Eastern Ontario Health Unit on updated testing guidelines.
“We appreciate how difficult this is for our patients whose wait times or care may be delayed. The team is working very hard to provide the highest quality care, and to return to normal operations as soon as we can,” says Jeanette Despatie, CCH President and Chief Executive Officer. “Like other local businesses and sectors, our workforce is being hit hard by the Omicron variant,” adds Despatie.
Despite several reports that the Omicron variant may cause a milder form of illness, CCH is seeing increasing hospitalizations which correlate to the increasing case counts locally.
On Christmas Day, only 1 patient was admitted at CCH with COVID-19; however, as of December 31, there are now 6 patients admitted with the virus. Unvaccinated patients continue to suffer from the most severe form of illness.
“It’s a reminder that we need to get vaccinated and not completely let our guard down. People are still getting very sick, and we need to protect our staff and maintain our healthcare system so we can deliver critical non-COVID related healthcare services,” says Despatie.
All staff and physicians at CCH are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 which means they are highly protected from severe illness.