'Dramatic increase' of COVID-19 patients in Waterloo Wellington hospitals, latest update shows

Hospital officials in Waterloo Wellington say they've seen a "dramatic increase" in the number of COVID-19 patients over the past few days.

Friday's update show 208 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, up from 166 on Tuesday.

"This trend is consistent with what the healthcare sector is experiencing provincially, not unique to our community," the latest hospital update said.

“The jump in three days of patients being admitted to our hospitals from 166 to 208 demonstrates that this region is on the ascent of the hospitalization curve (of) this wave," Lee Fairclough, St. Mary's General Hospital president and COVID-19 lead for Waterloo Wellington hospitals, said in the release. "We appreciate the ongoing cooperation across our hospitals and with community providers to help each other cope day to day and create additional space to care for all patients in our community. As well, we remain grateful to our community who continue to do their part in supporting the current health measures in place. It helps to blunt the impact on our health system given what we are seeing in this region currently.”

According to the release, Waterloo Wellington hospitals are "currently seeking 57 additional beds for patients."

"For context, this is about the third the number of beds of some of our hospitals in the region," officials added.

Although there are more patients than available beds, officials said anyone needing emergency care should still come to their closest hospital. They added teams are working to "identify spaces by opening non-traditional spaces across our hospitals."

The number of staff impacted by COVID-19 has dropped to 388, down from 508 in Tuesday's update.

Here is a further breakdown of hospital data, provided by Waterloo Wellington hospitals.

GRAND RIVER HOSPITAL ASKS FOR COMMUNITY SUPPORT

The president and CEO of Waterloo Region’s largest hospital said management has reached out to as many as 80 recently retired staff to see if they would come back and help fill vacant positions.

During a news conference Friday afternoon, Ron Gagnon said they would only be placed in bed-side positions depending on their comfort and skill levels.

“But in addition to that, we currently have 40 nursing students also known as clinical interns deployed across the organization,” said Gagnon. “We’ve also recruited through a referral program. And we had a virtual recruitment event where we were able to bring over 30 people to our organization.”

The president added he was worried about the burnout his frontline staff is facing, and acknowledged their concerns about staff not being compensated when isolating due to a COVID-19 exposure.

Gagnon said active discussions are underway to help deal with such issues.

When it comes to hospitalizations, Gagnon said that at 9:30 a.m. Friday only three beds were available out of 660 beds across Grand River Hospitals facilities, while 14 patients were waiting to be admitted.

He also shared how patients are now being placed in non-traditional locations.

“Adults in pediatrics as an example,” said Gagnon. “Another example would be day surgery units, admitted patients are on a stretcher in that area. They are not in a typical hospital bed.”