By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The past week has brought a trio of good news stories to the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.
One, a group of volunteers cleaned the snow off of the cars of health-care workers – a welcome respite for employees coming off a 12-hour shift.
Second, the tide may be finally turning in the recent surge of omicron cases as the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 at the hospital has dropped.
According to president and CEO Lori Marshall there is “cautious optimism,” as the situation is “very much improved.”
Marshall told a weekly municipal media scrum the hospital was only treating 16 COVID positive cases, with only two cases in the intensive care unit.
As of late last week, the ICU sat at 70-per-cent capacity with the medical/critical care/surge beds at 93-per cent capacity.
Pressure on the health-care system from the high numbers of COVID-19 cases is the metric the province uses to decide when to enact or lift lockdowns as well as other safety measures.
The main goal of pandemic safety protocols is to keep the health-care system from being overwhelmed.
The number of hospital staff affected by the virus is also levelling off, Marshall explained.
“We’re seeing a positive trend in decreasing numbers,” she added.
Marshall said during the media call, at that time, there were 45 individuals either infected with COVID-19 or exposed through a high-risk contact.
An additional 41 were work/isolating.
The numbers are down dramatically from January figures that saw nearly double the hospitalizations and 21 deaths related to the virus.
The third bit of good news for the hospital came following Chatham-Kent council’s recent budget deliberations. Elected officials have pledged $500,000 towards the capital cost of developing a dedicated withdrawal management services unit at the hospital.
“We’re very heartened to hear the news,” Marshall said.
The municipal funding will be used to complete capital renovations, although more than $1-million is needed.
CKHA officials are still waiting to hear if the hospital will be receiving funding from the Ministry of Health to cover ongoing operational costs for the new service.
Marshall said the province is expected to reach a decision by March 31.