Increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations prompts plea from Bluewater Health

Bluewater Health hospital in Sarnia. (Photo by BWH)

Bluewater Health is once again urging community members to do their part to limit the spread of COVID-19 as the number of hospitalizations has more than quadrupled over the past two weeks.

The hospital issued a letter to the community late Tuesday afternoon.

“These last 22 months have been unlike any other,” read the letter. “Our situation [Tuesday], however, is the most worrisome yet.”

The number of COVID-positive patients in hospital has gone from seven to 31 in the past two weeks, according to the letter. More than half of Bluewater Health’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is occupied by critically-ill patients with COVID pneumonia.

Chief of Communications Julia Oosterman previously told Sarnia News Today that the majority of COVID-positive patients in intensive care are unvaccinated.

As stated in the letter, the ICU is also seeing younger patients, “many in dire situations”.

“We have seen 30 and 40 year old’s, 20 year old’s even, in our ICU so getting vaccinated is your best defense against severe illness,” said Bluewater Health President and CEO Mike Lapaine.

Emergency departments in both Sarnia and Petrolia have noted an increase in traffic of upwards of 30 per cent.

Bluewater Health has reopened its COVID-dedicated medical unit and has cancelled all non-urgent surgeries so that staff can be redeployed to COVID care.

“The idea of opening the COVID unit is we will cohort all of the COVID infected patients in the one area to try and prevent any more patients from being affected,” said Lapaine. “But it really doesn’t help our staffing issues.”

The community letter outlined that “almost five times the usual number of staff” are on sick leave. Staff members have been working double shifts and have cancelled vacation time to help where needed.

As the hospital and its staff remain committed to taking care of residents, Bluewater Health is asking residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, to stay home when possible, to follow public health measures, and to be kind to others.

-With files from Josh Boyce