Life appears to be returning to some semblance of normalcy at Georgian Bay General Hospital.
The Midland facility isn’t reporting any new inpatient or staff cases today related to an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and is reopening another inpatient unit.
The totals remain at 32 in each category for the outbreak that was declared Dec. 7 in all inpatient units in consultation with the health unit.
On Tuesday, the hospital announced Tuesday that another inpatient unit (1 North) has been removed from the outbreak, meaning 2 North is now considered the only remaining area of the hospital still considered to be in outbreak. The hospital removed 2 East, ICU and Obstetrics from the outbreak on December 22.
The outbreak never made its way to the hospital's emergency department, which continues to employ strict safety measures, according to hospital president and CEO Gail Hunt.
"GBGH’s Emergency department has not been part of the COVID-19 outbreak at any time and has many preventive measures in place to ensure the safety of our patients,” Hunt said. “Throughout the pandemic and the recent outbreak, GBGH has always encouraged people to visit the hospital’s Emergency department if they require medical attention."
Hunt said delaying care could result in more serious illness, which may require hospitalization or have other long-term consequences.
"It is always in our patients’ best interest to seek urgent care when they require it," she said. "If you have a health concern, then it concerns us too.”
And over this past weekend and over the next week, more than 50% of GBGH staff and credentialed staff will have received the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the Barrie immunization clinic. Staff must travel to receive the vaccine due its temperature sensitivity.
“This week is historic for our hospital as the majority of our staff and credentialed staff will have received their first dose of the vaccine by January 10,” Hunt said.
"Our goal at GBGH is to provide safe, exceptional care and having this vaccine available to us so quickly brings hope and a much-needed morale boost to our team.”
Staff and credentialed staff will receive their second dose of the vaccine in about three weeks time. But even once the vaccine provides full immunity, the hospital plans to continue following public health guidelines for personal protective equipment (PPE) and physical distancing to ensure the ongoing safety of patients and staff.
Meanwhile, six patients remain in hospital while 20 have been discharged home. There is also one inpatient not related to the outbreak.
There have also been six patient deaths and one visitor case related to the outbreak (a high-risk contact of a COVID positive patient during their period of communicability).
Contact tracing for current patients and staff is being completed through the hospital’s Occupational Health and Safety and Infection Prevention and Control departments. Contact information for anyone who has been an inpatient (and has now been discharged) or outpatient at the hospital, or who may be considered a high-risk contact of one of these cases, has been provided to public health for community follow-up.
So far this year, the hospital has recorded 41 positive cases involving inpatients, seven outpatients (swabbed via the emergency department) and eight COVID-related deaths.
The hospital also announced last week that it will resume non-urgent and elective procedures and surgeries.
These services were postponed December 7 at the beginning of the outbreak. The resumption of services includes ambulatory care procedures, such as endoscopy, which were also postponed. The decision to proceed was based on no COVID-19 transmission in the surgical and ambulatory care departments and was made in consultation with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.