Stayner doctor believes its time to reopen ward beds in nursing homes

As COVID-19 cases drop and the number of double-vaccinated individuals increases, the push now is to get those deemed high-risk a third vaccine as added protection against the deadly virus.

Dr. Sohail Gandhi, the past president of the Ontario Medical Association and current Stayner physician, says that nursing home residents are first in line to get a third shot, along with health-care workers who are constantly exposed to people with compromised immune systems and people over the age of 70.

He mentions that despite reports of recent breakthrough COVID-19 cases, most people don't need to be concerned about getting a third shot at this time.

"If you've had your second vaccine in the past three or four months, you still have a fair bit of time to get a booster, so I wouldn't rush to get your shot," Dr. Gandhi says.

As for those breakthrough infections, Dr. Gandhi says it's not surprising because there are breakthroughs with any disease that requires a vaccine, such as measles and chickenpox.

According to the Stayner physician, most people diagnosed with a breakthrough infection experience mild symptoms, typically fever, sore throat and a cough.

REOPENING WARD BEDS IN SENIORS' HOMES

Dr. Gandhi took to social media on Monday, posting the need to allow seniors' homes to reopen ward beds to "help clear [the] backlog of patients waiting in hospitals for long-term care beds."

He called his idea "controversial" but maintains that with COVID-19 cases holding steady, he thinks the province is at the point where it doesn’t have one-third or one-half of nursing homes at risk for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Simcoe Muskoka has two outbreaks at nursing homes, which Dr. Gandhi says could be cause for concern, adding that extra safety precautions are needed, like proper ventilation with HEPA filters.

"We really need to start figuring out a way to get people safely back into nursing homes and open up those ward beds in the short term," he says.

Dr. Gandhi says he believes the vaccine mandates in effect at many businesses could push Ontario to the 90 per cent threshold for vaccinations.

Controversial thought - with #COVID19 numbers holding steady, and with most #LTC residents having 3rd shot of #COVIDVaccine - maybe allow nursing homes to open up ward beds again, to help clear backlog of patients waiting in hospitals for #LTC beds.

— Sohail Gandhi (@drmsgandhi) November 1, 2021