Unvaccinated COVID-positive patients fill ICU beds in Chatham-Kent

The main entrance sign at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance. (File photo by Jake Kislinsky)

The Intensive Care Unit at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) is once again at 100 per cent capacity, and that has local health officials worried.

“That’s the number that I’m keeping an eye on,” said Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Colby. “We really have to make sure there is capacity for folks when they get sick.”

The Health Alliance reports there are 33 COVID-positive patients in Chatham, up from 25 on Monday. Of the hospitalized cases, 16 are unvaccinated and six of them are in the ICU, all of whom are unvaccinated.

There are four ventilators in use in the ICU, three for COVID patients, and the average age of the COVID-positive inpatients is 70 years old.

There are 77 staff at the CKHA off due to COVID or exposure, and 66 are at work under self-isolation conditions/working from home.

The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit (CKPHU) also reported four new outbreaks on Monday — that includes an outbreak with seven cases at Riverview Gardens long-term care home in Chatham in 4E and 2W. There are four cases at Copper Terrace long-term care home in Chatham in 2N, and five cases at a group home. The fourth new outbreak is in the dialysis unit at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, which was first reported on Monday afternoon.

As reported Monday night, elementary and secondary students across Ontario will return to their classrooms on January 17.

Dr. Colby said he’s comfortable having kids return to in-person learning.

“We’ve never had a problem with our schools being unsafe,” said Dr. Colby. “So, we’ll just have to see how the absenteeism levels are in both students and staff and see how we do, but I think this is a positive decision.”

When it comes to receiving additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Colby believes as long as the virus is in a pandemic state, we are going to need booster shots.

“The pandemic won’t last forever. We really hope that we don’t get even more variants coming, but we’ll have to deal with whatever comes up,” said Dr. Colby. “We can hope, we can wish. We’re all really, really tired of all this, but we have to deal with the reality.”