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Impact of COVID-19’s second wave yet to be seen at Stevenson

October 16, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Canada is closing in on 200,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, but the second wave hasn’t yet impacted health services locally.

From a community perspective New Tecumseth is doing quite well in preventing transmission of COVID-19, according to Stevenson Memorial Hospital (SMH) Chief of the Emergency Department Dr. Matthew Myatt.

“In terms of seeing COVID-positive patients who need to be intubated or transferred, I’d have to say we’re not seeing too many of those people and you can see by the numbers in our community, really, outside of the outbreak at Simcoe Manor, we don’t have a large volume of patients who are positive, thankfully,” he noted.

The ER at Stevenson Memorial Hospital (SMH) is currently seeing about 15 per cent less patients than it was last year at this time.

This is, in part, because it takes longer to see patients due to additional precautions taken by SMH staff to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

With every possible COVID-19 patient, ER staff have to change their PPE and clean the area the patient was seen in.

“Probably on average, it takes maybe 20 per cent longer to see a patient than it did last year, so that’s sort of the limitation,” said Dr. Myatt. “If you’re waiting in the ER, that’s potentially why.”

The second wave will look much different than the first at SMH as the staff now have a clear framework from the Ministry of Health on how to respond and contingency plans are in place if they begin to see more serious cases of COVID-19.

“We were kind of flying by the seat of our pants, as was everybody back in March,” noted Dr. Myatt. “We struggled through that a little bit but I think because we had such a strong team at the time, we came through it, we came out on top, so to speak.”

Dr. Myatt told The Times the team at SMH is more calm and at ease now when responding to COVID-19 since they are more familiar with the virus and know how to deal with it.

“We’re still very careful and we’re doing exactly the same precautions that we’ve been doing since March, that actually has not changed one day, but I think it’s just a little bit more relaxed now because we know what we’re dealing with and tensions aren’t running so high…a lot less panic,” he explained.

“There seems to be a lot less changes that are going on within the hospital, because we’re sort of at maximal protection of the staff and protection of the patients that we possibly can do.”

Dr. Myatt said nobody does well with too much change at one time, so receiving clear and steady direction from the Ministry of Health as of late has been a big help.

“It’s definitely been easier… it’s easier to assess people who need to be swabbed and who don’t need to be swabbed. It’s easier to tell people who don’t have symptoms, please don’t come to the hospital because we’re not swabbing people who don’t have symptoms at this time,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the team of healthcare workers at SMH have helped to create a positive atmosphere to work in, Dr. Myatt noted.

He said the same core group of teammates have been there since he started at SMH roughly a decade ago and they’ve been able to keep each other’s spirits high throughout the pandemic.

“Work is really the only time we get out because you’re not really allowed to do anything these days, so despite the fact we’re all wearing masks and caps and stuff, we’re really trying to keep the morale upbeat and it’s been good,” he explained.

“It’s actually kind of a relief to come to work because otherwise you don’t see anybody else sometimes.”

In terms of the weeks and months ahead, Dr. Myatt said it’s hard to know exactly what’s going to happen with COVID-19 transmission locally, but SMH is prepared if they start seeing more severe cases.

“We still have a respiratory unit that’s been open since the start of COVID here, so we are able to accommodate patients with COVID or COVID like symptoms or respiratory symptoms,” he noted.

Dr. Myatt said his message to the public is to wear a mask and follow the public health and safety guidelines put forward by the Ministry of Health to minimize the spread of the virus.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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