By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
A Chatham-Kent man passed away from COVID-19 on Thursday morning.
He was 91 years old and living alone until he contracted the virus and was sent to the hospital.
Lori Marshall, president and CEO of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance
(CKHA), gave an update to reporters at the municipality’s weekly COVID-19 press briefing.
Active cases of COVID-19 have risen to 124 after CK Public Health reported 14 new cases and 9 recoveries.
One new individual is also hospitalized at CKHA making a new record high in terms of hospitalized COVID patients.
Nine people are admitted in hospital with COVID-19, six are residents and three come from neighbouring counties. None of the patients CKHA took in from Erie Shores contracted the virus, Marshall added.
“We very often have individuals who come to our hospitals to seek care … there aren’t hard and fast borders when you look at the western borders and our northern borders in particular. People choose to come here versus going to another hospital when they’re essentially sitting in the middle of different choices,” she said.
Two individuals have been moved to the intensive care unit (ICU) one of which is using a ventilator to assist with breathing. Two of the individuals are in the progressive care unit (PCU) which Marshall said is a step down from the ICU. Five individuals are recovering in the COVID unit.
Last week Marshall announced that staff from the surgical program were being redeployed into the ICU. The overall process of the move has been stressful on staff who are currently receiving additional training in critical care.
“I think all of us would recognize that when you are moved in terms of your work site – whether it’s the people that you work with or the familiarity of your unit or your tasks – it is difficult for staff and I would say that in general overall in the organization we continue to identify that working in healthcare right now is a very stressful,” she said.
This is the largest number of COVID cases CKHA had to deal with since the onset of the pandemic. Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health, said he expects we will continue to “deal with a substantial surge” of new COVID-19 cases before things get better.
“Many people did not take the public health advice seriously with regard to (holiday) gatherings and so forth, so this kind of creates a perfect storm. So it may get worse before it gets better, but I’m hoping that the lockdown measures, the fact that the holiday period is over, and that vaccine … has already started to be applied in Windsor will have a beneficial effect on these numbers,” he said.
Colby added that the proportion of those people needing to be hospitalized in Chatham-Kent versus the new cases is relatively low so it is unclear what kind of surge the hospital may see in the following days.
Overall, medical, surgical and critical care occupancy is sitting at 74 per cent for CKHA. The ICU and PCU alone are operating at 100 per cent occupancy.