The last several days has seen a flurry of activity with local health and community agencies responding to the developing COVID-19 situation.
Niagara Health announced Monday that they are postponing elective procedures as part of that response. To protect patient safety and to increase capacity for healthcare workers, the Ontario government has requested that all hospitals ramp down elective surgeries and other non-emergent clinical activity.
“These are very difficult decisions, as we understand the impact of a postponed procedure will have on everyone from patients to members of our care team,” said Derek McNally, Niagara Health’s Executive Vice President, Clinical Services & Chief Nursing Executive.
“However, we need to be cognizant of the fact that this is not business as usual, and we are doing all that we can to support a robust and effective response to COVID-19.”
Niagara Health on Monday also implemented screening at hospital entrances and placed visitor restrictions. Patients, family members, visitors and volunteers meeting the screening criteria for COVID-19 will be directed to a secondary area for further assessment. For the time being, only one person will be able to accompany a patient to a Niagara Health clinic and likewise, only one visitor per patient will be permitted into inpatient units.
Managers at Niagara Health will use discretion on the temporary visitor restrictions for compassionate reasons.
Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has implemented similar restrictions as Niagara. All patients are being screened and there are strict visitor guidelines in place. HHS is winding down non-urgent, elective surgeries and non-urgent, ambulatory programs and services with patients being notified if their care is affected as a result of the changes.
In addition, Hamilton health organizations have partnered together to open COVID-19 Assessment Centres. These centres will see individuals who have a referral from their doctor or Hamilton Public Health Services by appointment only, based on symptoms, travel history and/or exposure to known cases.
Niagara Children’s Centre also scaled back services on Monday by suspending face-to-face visits at its primary location, its preschool speech and language satellite locations, in homes and in the community until April 5th. The Centre will continue to process invoices and new referrals while providing phone and online support throughout this time. Families who have scheduled appointments will be contacted to discuss their specific circumstances and rescheduling.
Similarly, Pathstone Mental Health has advised the public that their sites will be closed to the public until April 5th. These sites include The Branscombe Centre, Rotary House, Merrittville, The Branscombe Early Learning Centre, Port Cares, Boys & Girls Club Fort Erie, Beamsville Medical Clinic and all Hear & Now Walk-In clinic locations. For existing clients, counselling and supports will be offered one-on-one over the phone. Counselling and supports are offered 24/7 through Pathstone’s crisis line.
The Niagara Independent will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation for new developments.