Local agencies warn of overloaded healthcare system

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Essex County health care organizations issued a dire warning Friday that the system is approaching a tipping point following sudden increases in cases of COVID-19 and other respiratory ailments affecting young children.


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“We are seeing it in the adult population, we are seeing it in the pediatric population and we are not seeing a plateau of cases in the COVID community,” said Dr. Wassim Saad, Windsor Regional Hospital Chief of Staff.

“And that is cause for concern.”

The warning came in a joint statement from Windsor Regional Hospital, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Erie Shores HealthCare, Essex-Windsor EMS, and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

The organizations said they were “warning the public about increasing capacity pressures throughout the acute care system.”

Wait times for hospital treatment and ambulance response for anything other than emergencies will be “much longer than usual,” they said. The organizations are asking people to seek care for non-emergency problems from their family doctor or local medical clinics.


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Saad said Windsor Regional Hospital has hit double digits for COVID-19 intensive care unit patients for the first time in several months. There were 18 COVID-19 patients at Windsor Regional Hospital on Friday morning, including 10 in the ICU.

The region is also facing a “dramatic increase” in young children with severe respiratory problems. Since October, Windsor Regional Hospital has had to transport 11 pediatric patients affected by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) out of town.

During the same period last year, the hospital transferred three pediatric patients. Transferred children are generally two years old or younger.

“The fact that we see so many more of them, and their illness seems to be more serious, to the point where we had to transfer the children to London and Detroit, tells me that there is a lot of spread in the community and that people may not be following a lot of public health measures, ”Saad said.


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Healthcare partners urge people to get fully vaccinated and follow protocols on mask use, social distancing, and other COVID-19 guidelines. If you feel bad, even with minor symptoms, stay home.

For more information on vaccinations or to make an appointment, visit wevax.ca .

Flu shots are also recommended.

“At the hospital level, there is not much we can do to control what comes through our doors,” Saad said. “That is why the request is to the community to see what we can do to stem the tide of infection and community transmission.

“Because that’s the only way you’ll be able to reduce what you end up in the hospital.”

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