As children return to school for the fall term, hospitals within Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) are ramping up training for pediatric nursing due to an expected increase in pediatric patients.
According to KHSC, Registered Nurses at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) and Hotel Dieu Hospital (HDH) who generally work with adult populations are being offered pediatric training as part of the preparations. The surge in pediatric patients is expected due to the prevalence of the COVID-19 Delta variant and lower COVID-19 vaccination rates amongst those under the age of 18. As such, the hospitals are preparing so as to better manage COVID-19 and other respiratory illness related admissions of young people.
In an email to Kingstonist, KHSC relayed the following:
“In the event that there is a surge in pediatric admissions for seasonal respiratory illnesses as well as COVID-19 infections in the fall and winter, Kingston Health Sciences Centre is preparing with the following strategies:
- A plan to optimize bed spaces and have equipment and supplies ready to support higher numbers of ventilated or critically ill children.
- A staff training program that will provide pediatric nursing expertise to dozens of registered nurses currently working in adult areas.”
The organization, which oversees the operation of both hospitals, also said that they are “working with our pediatric health-care partners to align our surge plans, assess regional and provincial system capacity, and closely monitor important pediatric critical care resources.”
The projected surge in pediatric patients coincides with the fall return to school, and the fact that children under 12 years of age are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.
For their part, the Limestone District School Board (LDSB) emphasized the need to be both vigilant and flexible as the pandemic continues.
“The board’s key priority is the wellbeing and safety of students and staff. We want the return to school to be safe and successful for everyone. During this pandemic, the best indicator for the safety in Limestone schools will continue to be the overall health of the communities we serve. This will require a continued focus on everyday mental health and well-being strategies to support educators and students return to school while creating optimal conditions for learning and development,” the board said in an email to Kingstonist.
The Limestone Board also said that situations involving students who become absent from school due to illness and/or hospitalization will be treated as they would be any other time, with the creation of a learning plan discussed between the school in question and the student/student’s family. The Board has already released its detailed return-to-school plan, which was further discussed and expanded on at the Board meeting held Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. The Board has indicated that it is still awaiting further direction from the Ministry of Education, which is the case for all school boards and post-secondary institutions across the province at time of publication.
When asked for comment regarding the potential surge in pediatric patients, the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board (ALCDSB) indicated they would be putting out communications to families and staff on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, however, that communication did not include any information regarding the expected increase of pediatric patients. The ALCDSB has also already released its detailed return-to-school plan. The communications from the ALCDSB did, however, include the following statement:
“On behalf of our Board of Trustees and senior team I want to reiterate our commitment to the safety, and ongoing well-being of our students and staff as we return to our Catholic schools in person next week,” ALCDSB Director of Education, David DeSantis, said.
“As we return to school in person this fall, the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic DistrictSchool Board will continue working closely with our local public health units to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our Catholic schools.”
Early last week, the local Medical Officers of Health released a statement regarding the return to school and the upcoming school year.
“As we return to school in person this fall, public health and school boards will continue to work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools. We are committed to working together to ensure students, educators, and staff can learn as safely as possible in the classroom environment. With preventive infection control measures continuing in schools, increasing rates of COVID-19 vaccination in our region, and relatively stable rates of COVID-19, we are well-positioned to ensure a safe and successful return to in-person learning,” the statement reads.
Kingstonist will update this article if/when more information becomes available.