I would like to start with a sincere thank you to the residents of Orillia and surrounding communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has demanded a huge sacrifice by community members and businesses with the requirements of physical distancing. Based on recent pandemic modeling data from the Ontario Ministry of Health, it appears as though we have avoided a community surge of patients with COVID-19 from overwhelming the healthcare system. This is a result of collective efforts of the community to do our part and we should all be grateful for our success to date.
Experts are quick to point out this is far from over. The COVID-19 virus, although not spreading rampantly in the community at this point, remains active with new cases appearing on a daily basis. Simply abandoning the important public health measures like physical distancing could quickly undo everything that has been achieved so far. In addition, there is a very different pattern of COVID-19 spread in our Long-Term Care (LTC) homes impacting some of our most vulnerable in the community. Approximately half of the LTC homes across the province are currently experiencing outbreaks and need more targeted support to get through this wave of COVID-19.
Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) continues to adjust to the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of our success in suppressing community spread, along with our planned reductions in activity, we are currently operating at about 70% of our overall capacity. This is similar to many other hospitals across the province. In earlier phases of our pandemic planning, we used this extra capacity to retrain and redeploy staff in different areas as part of our pandemic readiness plan. We also established the Couchiching COVID-19 Assessment Centre, which continues to see anyone with possible symptoms of COVID-19 infection to provide education and arrange testing where appropriate.
With the increased COVID-19 spread in LTC homes, OSMH has taken a more proactive approach in supporting all congregate living environments (LTC, retirement, group homes and shelters). With the leadership of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Ontario Health Home and Community Care and our local Primary Care Providers, we are offering assessment, testing, education and supplies to help prevent infections from entering the facilities. It is a coordinated, team effort to ensure our community’s most vulnerable are not left behind.
We are also hearing more about how we start coming out of these pandemic restrictions. Whatever the plan, we can expect it to be slow and measured. As the weather improves, the temptation exists to bend the rules. Please don’t. We are not out of this yet. We need to follow the advice of Public Health in how we come out of the first wave of this pandemic.
This is no different for OSMH. We appreciate how difficult it has been for those whose scheduled procedures or surgeries have been cancelled. We know important medical procedures cannot wait indefinitely and our clinical teams are anxious to get back to providing excellent, compassionate care in all settings. We will be following the guidance of the Ontario Ministry of Health to ensure we restart in a responsible way.
We are also concerned that people may not be accessing necessary medical care for fear of contracting COVID-19 in hospital. We want to reassure the public that we are taking extraordinary measures to make sure our Emergency Department is safe. If you need urgent medical care, do not hesitate to visit our Emergency Department. We remain committed to being there for you when you need us most. That will not change.
President & CEO
Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital