COVID-19: Waterloo Region, Guelph area hospitals treating 126 cases, 500+ staff off work

Anxiety is growing over Canada's fifth wave, as Omicron overwhelms hospitals. Abigail Bimman reports on the toll it's taking on front-line workers, and how this wave compares to previous ones.

There are 126 confirmed COVID-19 cases being treated across six hospitals in Waterloo Region, Guelph and Wellington County, according to new data released on Tuesday.

The local hospitals have committed to releasing a report twice a week amid a surge in cases due to the Omicron variant.

“We continue to exhaust every option and make every effort to increase our capacity as a local system to care for more patients,” said president of St. Mary’s General Hospital Lee Fairclough who also serves as the Waterloo Wellington hospital regional lead in the COVID-19 response.

“Despite adding more beds, hiring additional staff and last week, suspending non-urgent and nonemergent services, our hospitals are near or past capacity. The numbers are climbing at a rapid pace — increasing from 95 to 126 patients with COVID in our hospitals.”

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Fairclough said occupancy for all the local hospitals is between 90-99 per cent and a quarter of the patients are under the age of 60 and many are unvaccinated.

Along with St. Mary’s, the facilities included in the report are Cambridge Memorial Hospital, Grand River Hospital, Groves Memorial Community Hospital, Guelph General Hospital and North Wellington Health Care.

The report shows there are 110 COVID patients in acute care and 16 in intensive care.

Guelph General’s ICU occupancy is at 100 per cent, while its acute care occupancy is at 98 per cent, according to the report.

“The measures in this report give a larger picture of what we’re seeing in terms of occupancy and activity at the hospital including the increased visits over pre-pandemic numbers in emergency departments. Even with net new beds that have been opened in the region, today we are challenged to see more patients with less staff.”

The report also shows that over 500 staff are unable to come to work having either tested positive for COVID-19 or are isolated at home due to being a high-risk contact.

This includes nearly 200 staff at Grand River Hospital, more than 100 at St Mary’s and about 50 at Guelph General.

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“Especially as children head back to school next week, Omicron demands that we use every measure that we can to protect everyone,” Fairclough said.

“We are at a very critical point right now and our actions today and over the next few weeks will make all the difference in our ability to get through this together.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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