South Bruce Grey Health Centre is creating dedicated COVID-19 units within its Kincardine and Walkerton hospitals to manage patients with the virus.
The hospital organization says in a release the Acute Care Units in Kincardine and Walkerton will become dedicated COVID-19 units.
All non-COVID patients from the Kincardine and Walkerton hospitals started on April 3 to beds in Chesley and Durham. As of Monday, all patients that require admission to a South Bruce Grey Health Centre hospital for reasons other than COVID-19 will go to Chesley or Durham.
South Bruce Grey Health Centre plans to operate the designated COVID-19 units in Kincardine and Walkerton until demand becomes too high and it is no longer possible to keep those patients only at those two sites. At that point, the hospital organization says it will start to accept respiratory patients in designated spaces at Chesley and Durham.
"Currently, our patient volumes are quite low," says South Bruce Grey Health Centre president and CEO Michael Barrett. "We have not started to see a surge of critical illness in our area yet, but it is imperative that South Bruce Grey Health Centre is prepared to support patients in our communities if and when it does."
The hospital organization has also been working to reduce the occupancy of patients over the past three weeks, discharging as many as possible to create capacity by working with the support of families, patients themselves, LHIN planners and long-term care homes.
In addition, hospital capacity at all four sites can be increased further with the opening of new beds, a South Bruce Grey Health Centre statement explains.
"SBGHC has the ability to increase the number of beds at all of our sites because there is a considerable amount of space that has not been used as patient care space for many years," the statement says.
Currently, only 66 beds are staffed and operated in its four hospital sites. In 1998, South Bruce Grey Health Centre had over 180 beds. Steps are now being taken to convert some of that former patient care space back into areas for beds, while non-traditional space such as cafeterias and meeting rooms are available should the need arise.
"To respond to the anticipated demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are increasing our bed capacity at all four of our sites," explains Barrett. "These new beds will open should the COVID-19 situation escalate and more bed capacity is required."
South Bruce Grey Health Centre has 16 new beds ready to go and says it can open another 29 if required. The hospital organization is working with the provincial COVID-19 command table and regional group of Southwest LHIN hospitals to confirm the amount of beds required to open.
"This decision will be dependent on the number of COVID-19 cases in Grey Bruce requiring hospital care," a South Bruce Grey Health Centre release explains.
South Bruce Grey Health Centre says it's prepared to staff the additional beds should the need arise, but stresses they won't be opened and staffed until there is a demand for them.