Chatham ICU full. Majority unvaccinated. Surgery scheduling day-by-day: CKHA

Chatham-Kent health officials are “disheartened and worried” about the direction COVID-19 is taking in the region, saying the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is at capacity, and the majority of patients are unvaccinated.

Top hospital staff are again pleading with unvaccinated residents to get their shots.

“It is the best thing that we can do to protect ourselves and others,”says Chatham-Kent Heath Alliance President and CEO Lori Marshall.

“It’s not too late to get vaccinated,” adds Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Heath Dr. David Colby. “In order to protect everyone in our community, we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and we’ve got to do it as fast as we can.”

Colby urges hesitant residents to stop believing myths about the vaccine, “Myths that the vaccine is untested. Myths that the vaccine is unsafe. Myths that the vaccine is ineffective. It’s very effective.” Colby adds, “It’s no shame to change your mind and realize that the evidence supports getting vaccinated.”

Colby indicated Thursday that his frustration level with those spreading misconceptions is high, “On a scale of one to 10, it’s up in the thousands!”

Marshall says there are currently 16 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 13 who remain unvaccinated. Five of those people are in the ICU, Marshall adds, with two needing ventilation.

“We’ve all heard this tune before or seen this show before in terms of when hospitals become overwhelmed,” says Marshall. “The only outlet that we have is to reduce our scheduled care and that impacts then on surgical patients who may have to be cancelled.”

Marshall fears surgeries may have to be cancelled saying scheduling is currently day-to-day noting medical, surgical, and critical care beds are also near capacity.

“Again, we are not doing that at this stage but it is something that I am really worried and concerned about that we may have to go down that road again,” she adds.

Marshall notes the current average age of an ICU patient is 61, saying the ages range between 20 to 93.

Colby reiterates that vaccines keep most COVID-19-positive people out of hospital, explaining health officials don’t want to make difficult decisions about who can and cannot receive health care, should more ICUs in the region reach capacity.

“We do not want to go there. We do not want to go there at all. We want to have enough health care for everyone who needs it, especially those in desperate need! We are a compassionate society, and we must maintain that compassion and I implore everyone to do their part by getting vaccinated.”

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