Support Grand River Hospital Staff with a Token of Appreciation
As the Omicron variant causes COVID-19 cases to surge throughout the province, our health care system is at its breaking point. Despite now having more tools and knowledge to help us combat COVID-19, our current actions are not enough to effectively slow the influx of patients requiring care, making this by far the most challenging wave for health care workers and our health system to date.
Although it appears that the Omicron variant causes less severe disease than previous variants, it is also very contagious, and a small percentage of an extremely large number of cases is still enough to overwhelm our health care system and cause the dire situation that is currently unfolding on the front lines. Earlier this week, both the Region and the province reached the highest levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations seen since the start of the pandemic, with 107 people in Waterloo Region and 3,630 people in Ontario receiving hospital care. When a patient tests positive for COVID-19, the demand placed on hospital resources, such as staff, isolation rooms and personal protective equipment (PPE), is the same even when it is not the primary reason for hospitalization.
The rapidly increasing number of cases not only means that the sheer volume of people requiring care are limiting the resources available for non-COVID-19 patients and non-urgent care, but we are also contending with the worst health care staffing shortages seen throughout the pandemic. The increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant means more health care workers are contracting COVID-19 than in any other wave, leading to record numbers of staff absences. As of January 13, 168 of staff at Grand River Hospital are currently off work due to testing positive for COVID-19.
To help cope with staffing shortages and the influx of patients, hospitals across the province have ramped down non-urgent services and are reallocating resources as best they can. At Grand River Hospital, some services have been reduced until at least January 17, and some team members are being redeployed within the hospital in an effort to keep all beds open and staffed to support safe and effective patient care. Despite this, Grand River Hospital, and the health system at large, is still struggling mightily to keep up with demand.
The overwhelming impact of this wave is not only being felt by health care providers but will domino throughout the health system and into the community and beyond, leading to fewer available beds for patients (because beds are only useful if we have health care workers to adequately staff them), slower treatment, longer wait times, and slower response times for ambulances and emergency service providers.
Our ability to provide care for you and your loved ones is at risk, and we need your help to reduce the burden on our health care system. Get vaccinated, get your booster shot if you are eligible, wear a high quality mask, and limit your interactions with others whenever you can. We cannot stop the Omicron variant, but delaying its spread will buy us time to maximize vaccine uptake and can help us reduce the burden on the health system before we reach the point of collapse.
As we near the two year mark of the pandemic, we are all tired—there is no question about it. But leaning too heavily on our health care system, as we currently are, is not a sustainable solution: we cannot continue to carry this burden indefinitely.
In addition to taking collective actions to help prevent the health care system from sliding further into crisis, please also consider donating a coffee or meal to a health care worker and help support our frontline staff. Tokens of Support are given directly to team members at Grand River Hospital, and they can redeem them for a beverage or meal of their choice, free of charge. It’s a small gesture that goes a long way in making the days a little easier for hospital staff and reminding them of how truly appreciated they are for providing exceptional care during these challenging and unprecedented times.