The Victoria Day long weekend is the beginning of what medical experts at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) call “trauma season” — a period lasting until the Labour Day long weekend where trauma cases (serious injuries) increase.
After two long years mired in a pandemic, it’s safe to assume that many people will be hitting the road this weekend, and throughout the summer, taking advantage of the warmer weather and easing COVID-19 safety measures, KHSC said in a media release. That’s especially true here in Southeastern Ontario where many will likely be heading to cottages, or taking their ATVs, bikes, and boats out for a spin.
“Every year, we see the number of trauma cases across Ontario rise during the summer months as people get outside to enjoy the warmer weather,” said Dr. Chris Evans, head of Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s (KHSC) trauma service. “More people will be out on the roads, lakes and trails, which increases the chances of a serious injury. So, we’re encouraging everyone to please use caution, slow down, and wear a helmet and avoid a trip to our Emergency Department.”
As the regional trauma centre for Southeastern Ontario, many patients are brought directly to KHSC for specialized care, bypassing hospitals in other communities, according to the release. On average, KHSC’s trauma service receives 350 patients annually. KHSC reported that over the past two years, those numbers have been a little lower due to COVID-19.
“As individuals have isolated, fewer people have been on the roads so we have seen a decrease in cases. However, with a highly vaccinated population and reduced COVID-19 related restrictions, we’re really anticipating that more people will be out and about and we could begin to see a real increase in trauma volumes,” Dr. Evans said.
Complicating factors this year is that hospitals across the province, including KHSC, continue to navigate the lasting impacts of the pandemic. According to the release, high volumes of very sick individuals continue to need care, inpatient units at KHSC remain at or near capacity, and Emergency Department volumes also remain very high, while a critical staffing shortage is expected to continue through the summer.
“It’s been a tough two years for all health care workers, and we’ve yet to return to normal, so it really is important that everyone exercises caution and good judgment while enjoying the sunshine and warm weather, so you can avoid an unnecessary trip in an ambulance or helicopter,” said Dr. Evans. “But if you do need us, our team will be ready to help.”