On Monday, December 21, the Ontario government announced a provincewide shutdown beginning on December 26 to slow the spread of COVID-19. For the southern part of the province, which includes Renfrew County, these new restrictions will be in place for 28 days.
The shutdown is being implemented as a ‘circuit-breaker’ to protect Ontario’s hospitals in response to the alarming hospitalizations rates that we are mainly seeing in the Greater Toronto Area. The provincial hospitalization rates have increased by 74 per cent over the last four weeks and ICU occupancy for COVID-19 has more than doubled over the last four weeks.
In Renfrew County, our numbers have remained relatively low, however, regional travel has been a significant source of infection, which is why Dr. Cushman, Acting Medical Officer of Health for Renfrew County and District, had already issued a travel advisory for the holidays.
The shutdown will not have the same impact on our Arnprior Regional Health operations as it did in the spring. In the first wave, hospitals were asked to lockdown and in addition, create space and human resources capacity to prepare for a potential surge. Currently, there is no request to undertake this activity of creating additional capacity. That being said, ARH has been asked to have a plan for a 10% to 15% increase in current volumes, and our increased capacity plan from the spring remains in place in the case that it needs to be implemented.
Based on the lockdown guidelines, the following is the current impact to our operations for the 28-day period beginning December 26, 2020:
This is a challenging time in the pandemic for healthcare and the hope is that this shutdown will help us protect and preserve the health system as we rollout the COVID-19 vaccination program. If you require a COVID-19 test, please visit www.rcvtac.ca to access the holiday schedule and call 1-844-727-6404 to book your appointment.
It is difficult news for our community to receive as we head into the holidays, but I know we will navigate these challenging times together as we have before. On behalf of ARH, we wish you and your family a safe, healthy and happy holidays.