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Local hospitals remain in ‘extreme surge’ situation

Letter to the Community

Sent on behalf of Stacey Daub, President and Chief Executive Officer, Quinte Health Care

Dear Community Members,

Stacey Daub, QHC president and CEO

We wish it was over too.   Everyone on the Quinte Health Care team is so ready and wanting to return to a pre-pandemic life – having more freedoms to enjoy friends, family and community and having more normalcy in our hospitals.    If wishing could make it happen, we would definitely be COVID-free in our Bancroft, Trenton, Belleville and PEC hospitals and in our communities right now.   This update is to let you know that your local hospitals are still waging a battle with COVID, and that after two years of successive waves that are not quite over, we expect a slow and bumpy path to returning our hospitals to a better place.    We really need your help and understanding as we continue our journey to get there.

While COVID-19 hospitalizations are trending in the right direction in Ontario, COVID-19 remains a challenge for our hospitals and our people.  Despite coming down from the peak of the 5th wave of COVID in mid-January, QHC is again facing another rise in COVID patients (35 per cent increase in two weeks).   These COVID volumes are coupled with rising emergency department visits for non-COVID-related issues, and coincide with important efforts to resume surgical activities and other deferred patient care.

We also have fluctuating staffing shortages across all services and programs. Today, we remain in what we term an “extreme surge” situation as our teams’ care for a record high number of patients across all four community hospitals.  Our medicine units are at 160 per cent occupancy given the new uptick in COVID admissions and the fact that we remain caring for people recovering from COVID from previous waves.

I want to make sure our community understands what you can expect when you come to one of our four community hospitals.   Our precautions to keep our staff and patients safe remain.  You will need to wear a mask and you will be screened for COVID-19.   If you are visiting a loved one, you will receive a rapid antigen test at the door.  You can be assured that all staff and physicians caring for you are vaccinated against COVID.  Unfortunately, you can also expect to wait longer in the Emergency Department as well as for tests, procedures and appointments.  We know waiting is hard and that it is very frustrating for our patients, and for our teams right now.  With 30 per cent more patients than usual in the hospital, we are doing our best to continually adapt to support our patients and our teams.

There are a few things you can do to help our frontline teams.  Please be considerate and patient with our staff and physicians. It’s been a long pandemic. They have been going flat out for more than two years.  Your kindness goes a long way. Vaccination, including 3rd doses remains an important way to reduce your chances of being hospitalized.

It is particularly disappointing for all of us to be gripped by these challenges when we may otherwise have been expecting to relax on the downside of the COVID curve and with the reductions in public health restrictions taking place in the province.  But, be assured, we have a strong team and will see these challenges through.

COVID-19 is not yet over at QHC.  I’m asking for your understanding, your patience and your support.  We retain hope that the current upswing in COVID cases will be brief and limited and that any successive waves will be shorter and less impactful.  Spring and better days are both around the corner and with our community behind us we build back even stronger.

As always, it’s a pleasure and honour to serve my community.


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