We have all have heard of the term social or physical distancing as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the single most important way we can prevent transmission of the virus by avoiding crowded places and keeping 2 meters distance from others. How are we doing as a community? Not good enough. The next few weeks will be critical in defining the impact of COVID-19 and we all need to get very serious about making social distancing a priority at work and at home.
At Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH), we have taken extraordinary measures to support social distancing including cancellation of elective surgeries and cancellation of all visitors with very few exceptions to reduce hospital traffic. Healthcare is all about working as a team, and our teams are quickly finding new ways to work while maintaining our distance, even in some of our tightest spaces. Within a week, virtual meetings through videoconferencing and virtual care have become the norm. It is uncomfortable and awkward at first, but needs to be done.
We are also creating capacity within the hospital for what we believe will be an overwhelming number of patients with COVID-19 requiring our care. We are tripling our capacity to treat patients with severe difficulty breathing, who require a machine for assistance. With fewer elective surgeries booked, we have been able to repurpose an entire inpatient unit where we will cohort hospitalized patients with COVID-19 to limit exposure to other patients and staff.
We are working very hard at securing the necessary supplies to ensure we can care for patients and our staff throughout this crisis. Masks, goggles / face shields and gowns are some of the most basic, essential tools we have. There is a world-wide shortage of these items which has prompted us to consider new and creative ways to source or manufacture these items.
I want to let the community know we are working flat out on our COVID-19 preparations. The entire OSMH team is singularly focused on COVID-19 related activities, all day, every day. I am afraid it may not be enough. The success of OSMH will be defined by the collective efforts of this community to “flatten the curve”, essentially spreading out the total burden of COVID-19 illness over a longer period of time. Social distancing allows the healthcare community to respond to patient needs at a slower pace. COVID-19 is sprinting towards us and we need to slow it down to a jog.
Everyone can do their part by making social distancing a priority.
Our Prime Minister has been clear, “enough is enough, go home and stay home”.
Our Premier has taken unprecedented steps to close all non-essential businesses.
Our Mayor has declared a State of Emergency in Orillia.
It is now up to every individual to make the right choice.
President & CEO, Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital