Update from Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital – May 22, 2020
May 22, 2020
The summer weather is upon us and we have recently seen some positive signs with the reopening of the Ontario economy. I thought it would be a good time to provide an update on how Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) is moving forwards with the next phase of this pandemic. But first, we need to acknowledge our current reality with COVID-19.
In the history of pandemics, there is always a second wave. Always.
Until there is an effective vaccine, we will have to remain on high alert for a possible surge in cases. We are most vulnerable as businesses, parks and golf courses are re-opening. Although we are slowly resuming activities, we cannot afford to relax on the necessary public health measures of physical distancing, hand washing and now wearing masks in public with crowds as directed by public health. We cannot afford to throw away the incredible sacrifices everyone has made over the last few months with the false sense that we have beaten COVID-19. This is round one of a very long fight.
At OSMH, we are taking a parallel approach of resuming activity but not relaxing our COVID-19 efforts. Planning is underway to restart scheduled surgeries, procedures and clinics. We need to acknowledge this needs to be done thoughtfully and with caution. It starts with a clear understanding of how to prioritize the backlog of patients who have been waiting patiently as their care has been delayed. We are also determining the safest way to perform these procedures with the understanding that COVID-19 will be with us for some time. We need a stable supply of personal protective equipment to keep our patients and our staff safe. And finally we have to be vigilant in looking for any signs of increased activity in our hospitals, long term care facilities and our community at large. We have to be able to scale back operations if need be and have the capacity to respond to any future waves.
The leadership at OSMH has been working through many of these complex challenges, working closely with Public Health and partner hospitals across the region. There are literally thousands of procedures, tests, clinic appointments and surgeries that have been delayed. Rest assured that we will be in contact with you to reschedule as we work our way through this backlog. If your condition has worsened and you need medical attention, please do contact your primary care provider or visit our Emergency Department if needed. We are here for you and have taken the necessary precautions to keep you safe.
As we ramp back up, our surveillance of COVID-19 becomes even more important. We have increased our testing capacity at the Couchiching COVID-19 Assessment Centre here at the hospital. If you think you may have symptoms of COVID-19, contact your health provider or click here for more information on how to do a self-assessment and other information on COVID-19. We need to be able to readily detect and isolate any new cases. We know there have been approximately 400 new cases of COVID-19 every day in Ontario although the activity in the Orillia area has been low, it most certainly has not been zero.
My last message is to the families and friends of those receiving care at OSMH. We have made the difficult decision at this point in time to maintain our restrictions on visitors in hospital. Friend and family caregivers are an important part of our care team and we miss having you here. We continue to facilitate creative ways to connect people with their loved ones through technology. Please know our caring and compassionate team is doing their best to fill the void. We are doing this to protect our most vulnerable from a virus that silently moves through a community and accelerates quickly in institutions like hospitals and long-term care facilities. Visitor restriction is a horrible but necessary trade off.
We are reminded by our patient and family advisors who have worked closely with OSMH leaders in our COVID-19 efforts, that regular and open communication with our community is critical during times of uncertainty. We will continue to share information from OSMH as we work through the next phase of this pandemic.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. Thank you for the outpouring of community support for our front-line workers. We are in this together.
Carmine Stumpo President & CEO, Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital