KFL&A Public Health: Help protect our local health care system capacity

KFL&A Public Health. Photo by Lucas Mulder.

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health, along with Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), is urgently calling on the communities of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington; Hastings Prince Edward; and Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark to work together to help slow the growing COVID-19 case count in order to protect local hospitals and their ability to meet patients’ needs.

“For the last several weeks, KHSC has regularly had the highest number of COVID-19 inpatients and COVID ICU patients of all Ontario hospitals,” KFL&A Public Health said in a media release. “Including people with COVID-19, KHSC also currently has a large number of critically ill patients on ventilators at the Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site, and approximately 80 (of more than 500) beds currently dedicated to COVID-19 related activity, which includes active COVID-19 cases, recovered cases, those in quarantine, and those being tested for COVID-19.”

Public Health said that this, combined with already historically high patient volumes, is challenging KHSC’s ability to respond to the regular and ongoing urgent and emergency needs of the community.

As there is now detected spread of the Omicron variant in the region, Public Health said there are now signs this situation could get even worse if the community does not take immediate action:

  • KFL&A Public Health currently has 242.3 cases per 100,000, with active case count is 618 
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health currently has 88.1 cases per 100,000, with active case count is 203
  • LGLPH Public Health currently has 79.5 cases per 100,000, with active case count is 143

This is the highest collective case count these regions have seen during the pandemic, according to the release. 

“Already strained capacity limits are being stretched even further by the rapid growth in COVID-19 cases requiring hospital admission,” Public Health stated. “As a result, our local health care system is looking at alternate options to relieve mounting pressure. KHSC has recently transferred several critically ill patients to other hospitals and additional service reductions may be required to allow the hospital to redirect resources to support COVID-19 patients if rising rates don’t begin to slow.”

To ease the burden on the local health care system and ensure the community can continue to seek emergency and time-sensitive care, the local healthcare agencies are sincerely and urgently asking for help.

In the release, they urge everyone to:

  • Get fully vaccinated when you are eligible to help protect those most vulnerable and keep your neighbours, friends, and family members out of the hospital.
  • Get your third dose or booster as soon as you are eligible.
  • Screen for symptoms of COVID-19 daily.
  • Stay home, isolate, and get tested if you have any symptoms, even mild symptoms.
  • If you are a close-contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case but have not yet been contacted by public health, please self-isolate and get tested. 
  • Change your social habits. Avoid social gatherings and limit visiting others or having visitors.
  • Take physical distancing seriously. Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with and wear a mask in indoor spaces.
  • Consider curbside pick-up, delivery, or alternate hours for shopping if you are at a higher risk for illness.

“Despite these challenges we want to assure the community that the hospital remains safe for those who are in need of care with strict infection control and cleaning practices in place,” Public Health said.

“The residents in all of our communities have shown amazing resilience and strength during the pandemic. We are asking you to stay strong and act now to relieve the pressure on our health care system so it can continue to treat those who need help over the winter season. Thank you for your continued support.”

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