Bluewater Health bracing for fallout from ‘meteoric rise’ in COVID cases

Bluewater Health hospital in Sarnia. June 2017. (Photo by BWH)

Bluewater Health is facing a potential staffing crunch as it braces for an anticipated spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

President and CEO Mike Lapaine told Sue Storr on CHOK (103.9 FM, 1070 AM) Wednesday morning that the pressure on staff continues to build.

“The number of staff we have is calibrated to the number of beds that we would normally have,” said Lapaine. “This is an extraordinary time. When you add beds, it puts pressures on staff and couple that with the fact that we have 60 staff either self-isolating or with COVID that are off right now. So, our staffing numbers have been impacted and the pressures on staff have increased.”

Lapaine said, similar to the spring, they’re looking at scaling back clinics, procedures and surgeries, and he said the dedicated COVID unit will be re-established when the number of positive patients surpasses 10. Visitors are being restricted effective Wednesday.

He said Sarnia-Lambton is sitting on the edge of a knife, with the number of new infections per 100,000 population now among the worst in the province.

“It’s been a meteoric rise and I think that what we can expect, if the experience in other jurisdictions is any indication, is that will translate into increased hospitalizations within a week or two.”

Lapaine said the surgical team did a remarkable job catching up on surgeries and procedures that were postponed last spring by adding additional hours and operating rooms.

He said they’ve been asked by Windsor Regional Hospital to temporarily help with its capacity issues but only as local demand allows.

-With files from Sue Storr