Bluewater Health reminding residents it’s not a COVID test centre as community transmission climbs

Dr. Michel Haddad, Chief of Professional Staff, Bluewater Health, Adjunct Professor, Western University. Submitted photo.

Bluewater Health’s emergency department was busy attending to a number of patients experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a PCR test over the Christmas weekend.

Chief of Staff Dr. Mike Haddad said most patients present with mild symptoms and go home, especially if they’re vaccinated, but there has been an increase in admissions, especially if there is no prior immunity or vaccination.

He said the latter continues to be a risk for more advanced COVID pneumonia, requiring hospitalization.

“The ER has told me that they’re seeing a lot of patients with either confirmed COVID positive (results), or suspected, who have a lot of severe illnesses,” said Haddad. “I went down a few times to check on them and we definitely have an increase in volume.”

Dr. Haddad expects the virus will go through the community “like a twister” over the next three to four weeks and ER numbers will continue to climb.

“A lot of people will get infected. If vaccinated, hopefully they’ll just get a cold, but if not, I am worried about that high risk population.”

Dr. Haddad said new cases have been climbing across the province, and if Ontario is reporting 10,000 new cases a day — it’s more like 25,000 to 30,000.

“If you book a test now, it might be a week before you even get tested, and many are relying on rapid tests, which are not reported provincially. If you look at the test positivity rate, it’s up to 20 per cent. It used to be three or four per cent.”

Haddad said there were 15 COVID positive patients in the Intensive Care Unit Tuesday.

“It has been full and unfortunately about 60 per cent of the patients in ICU have COVID pneumonia.”

Bluewater Health is reminding residents to only visit the Emergency Department if you are experiencing emergent symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath.

The hospital is not a COVID-19 testing centre.

Appointments for PCR tests can be made online through the Lambton Public Health website.

On days the assessment centres are closed, Bluewater Health said local pharmacies may be open and available to test.

-With files from Sue Storr