Hospital refusing vacation requests; stress on the rise due to COVID

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By Bruce Corcoran

As Chatham-Kent’s COVID-19 roller coaster ride continues, stress is taking its toll in the two local hospitals.

The latest Chatham-Kent COVID-19 numbers show a fourth resident now in hospital battling the virus, with outbreaks among Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) patients and staff in the COVID and medical units.

Over the past 24 hours, CK Public Health reports six new cases of COVID-19, while the resolution of 23 others, resulting in a dip of 17 and an active caseload of 119.

Fairfield Park long-term care home remains the hot spot in the municipality, with 59 people now reported linked to the home and having the virus.

Lori Marshall, CEO and president of CKHA, said with 10 staff members in isolation due to having COVID-19 and another 30 at home awaiting test results, plus the loan of a handful of staff to Fairfield Park, CKHA officials are not accepting any vacation requests from hospital personnel at this time.

Marshall said staff are feeling the stress of the situation.

“Our sick time has been elevated through the pandemic. It’s definitely a stressful time and I would assume a portion of our sick time is related to that,” she said. “But I can’t say for sure what amount of sick time is attributable to stress. We would anticipate it would be one of the causes. We are focused on providing mental wellness supports for our staff.”

Marshall said she and hospital personnel continue to wait to hear when they will receive vaccine doses to begin immunizing health-care staff against the virus.

“The first rollout of the vaccine went to long-term care. We continue to work with Public Health on that,” she said.

In terms of when CKHA staff could see the vaccine, Marshall said it is unknown. She said they will be ready when that moment eventually arrives.

“We do have an internal group that is looking at prioritization framework for when the time comes to immunize our staff and how to work it out,” she said.

“The supply is an issue across Canada,” she said of the vaccine. “I do believe Public Health anticipates another supply coming this week that would allow them to complete the long-term care residents who are the most vulnerable. It has been identified that older persons are the highest risk factor. That’s the group that really goes to the head of the line. We look forward to the rest (of vaccine supplies). We continue to plan and be ready for that.”

With outbreaks in two units of the hospital, administration has increased visitor restrictions, isolated staff to specific units in the hospital to minimize virus spread, and increased housekeeping and sterilization procedures.

Marshall said it’s merely an augmentation to existing practices already in place by CKHA.

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