Hamilton Health Sciences offers a COVID-19 update


Published March 24, 2022 at 6:04 pm

The largest hospital network in the Hamilton area says that while hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are at an all-time low, the entire system faces “occupancy pressures.”

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) offered a COVID update on Thursday afternoon (March 24), near the end of the first week since the Ontario PC Party government and City of Hamilton made masks optional in most indoor public settings. The total of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city is at a six-week high of 118 and the positivity rate is three percentage points above the provincewide rate. Hoeverall,  HHS says it is has good trend lines in a number of areas.

There are 35 HHS patients who have COVID-19, with fewer than five in intensive care unit. There are also zero active outbreaks in the network. (St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton has 20 patients with COVID-19, including three in the ICU.) About 260 health-care workers in self-isolation, but the hospital is meeting the provincial goal to be at 70 per cent of pre-COVID activity.

“There are still significant occupancy pressures at our hospitals,” HHS wrote in a Twitter thread. “Our hospitals are consistently at or above 100 per cent occupancy. Hospitals should be in the range of 90 per cent.

” …While we are still dealing with health human resource shortages, our hospitals are operating at 70 per cent of pre-COVID activity which is the provincial goal. Our target is to be at 80 per cent by the end of this week.”

Visiting guidelines broadened, some services returning

Masking remains mandatory in hospitals, along with long-term care homes and public transit. But the update from HHS notes that visiting guidelines have been broadened, namely:

  • Inpatients may have two caregivers/visitors at the bedside at a time
  • Keeping a visitor list is no longer required\
  • Children may visit as long as they can follow masking requirements

The HHS reopened its West End Urgent Care Centre on Thursday morning. West Lincoln Memorial Hospital has also reopened its operating services, with plans for obstetrics services to return in late April.

The 300-plus healthcare workers whom HHS reassigned during the Omicron-fuelled fifth wave of the pandemic have now returned to their regularly assigned duties.

Earlier this week, HHS president and chief executive officer Rob MacIsaac wrote on Twitter that Hamilton is likely to see “another spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions” in the weeks to come. MacIsaac re-emphasized that point in the HHS update on Thursday.

“Just because masking mandates are lifted, doesn’t mean we should throw caution to the wind,” MacIsaac stated. “Collectively, our efforts make a big difference.”

The 118 new cases in Hamilton, which is not a reliable count due to the limits on PCR testing, raised the rolling seven-day average to 88. The positivity rate is also 16.5 per cent, which is higher than the provincewide 13.3.

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