Three assessment centres to open this week
One of three Covid-19 assessment centres opened on Wednesday.
The first is a portable to be set up outside Owen Sound hospital's Emergency Department.
Its hours will be Noon - 8pm seven days a week.
On Thursday another will open at Kincardine hospital - also a portable- 9-5 seven days a week.
And Hanover hospital will set up an assessment centre at the main entrance on Thursday as well.
It's hours will be 10-4 seven days a week
Dock News Director Diana Meder spoke with Grey Bruce Health Services President and CEO Gary Sims about these unprecedented times -
Dock: WHO DO YOU WANT TO SEE AT THESE ASSESSMENT CENTRES?
Sims: We want to see only those people who have symptoms (coughing, fever, flu-like symptoms) and are struggling to manage them at home. Those who are very ill will need to go to the ER. What we don't want to see are those people who DON'T have symptoms or those who only have mild symptoms and are managing ok at home in self-isolation. I'd like to stress that people will not be tested at these sites. These are assessment centres - not swabbing sites. Testing will only occur for the most critical patients and will likely only be done for those who have been in emerg or admitted to hospital.
Dock: WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING AS THE FIRST SURGE AT THESE SITES?
Sims: We don't know what to expect. Likely there will be a line up initially. Its going to be a learning curve for the population and how we're going to function. Looking at assessment centres across the province, they've been able to manage that first surge. We're hoping that in today's world where we're highly connected, people are looking at reliable sites online and listening to the radio, watching the news, we're hoping word gets out (about who we want to see). People need to realize the purpose of the assessment centre is to deflect from the Emergency Department so they can manage our regular capacity of patients in need as well as the extra demand put on us by this very unusual circumstance. These are unprecedented times and we're asking people to be alert, conscious, to do their civic duty and come to these centres when they need it, otherwise we risk the system being overloaded and this is what we're trying to prevent.
Dock: WE ONLY HAVE TWO CONFIRMED CASES IN GREY BRUCE AT THE MOMENT. ARE YOU EXPECTING MORE TO EMERG ONCE THESE CENTRES OPEN?
Simms: Its unknown at this point. Across the province today we saw a decrease in the number of cases and we're not sure how to take that. The swabbing going on across hte province can affect those results. The vast majority get such mild symptoms and may not be reporting so we don't know those numbers. We expect most people coming to the assessment centres will be directed to go home and self-isolate
Dock: HOW WILL YOU MANAGE THE RISK AT THE ASSESSMENT CENTRES THEMSELVES?
Sims: Staff will be directing patients who arrive at the assessment centres. They'll be registered and then asked to go back to their vehicles. They'll receive a text when to enter the centre in order to prevent long line ups and a congregation of people. Inside the centre there are four separate areas so we can see four patients at a time. It will be staffed by a physician, a nurse and a registration staff member. We've got our fingers crossed. We're planning for the worst and hoping for the best. That's our strategy. We're well equipped to respond appropriately.
Dock: NURSES ARE COMING OUT OF RETIREMENT ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO HELP. IS THAT SOMETHING GBHS WILL BE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF?
Sims: We're not at a stage yet where we need to pull people out of retirement. We're aware of people who are available if we need them. We're fortunate to have a lot of community support from with family health teams etc. We're well staffed and by the end of the week we will have decreased to only essential services which frees up further staff. At this point, we are feeling ok but always monitoring circumstances and planning for future stages should this ramp up and get worse.
Dock: WHAT'S YOUR OVERALL MESSAGE TO THE COMMUNITY DURING THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES?
Sims: The community needs to have confidence in our health care system and those providing the care. Please try to remain calm. I do understand there's anxiety and fear but hearing the message clearly from the experts, the vast majority of people will be safe with very minor symptoms should they be exposed. Following the directions - staying a safe distance from each other, self isolate when possible and understand that the people working in your health care system are from your community. They care about this community and they care about every patient. They're doing their utmost to manage the circumstances so please be respectful of each other and be respectful of the health care system. We're all in this together.
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