The number of COVID-19 patients being admitted to Boundary Trails Health Centre (BTHC) appears to have hit a plateau since last week's update with Dr. Ganesan Abbu, Special Care Unit Lead at the facility located between Morden and Winkler.

As of Tuesday morning, there were 18 patients with COVID-19 admitted to the hospital; 13 active and five that have recovered but still require some level of care, said Dr. Abbu. This compares to last week Monday when there were 21 cases of COVID-19 admitted to the facility. In addition, Dr. Abbu reported three COVID-19 patients admitted to ICU at BTHC, pushing the unit over capacity with two additional non-COVID patients waiting to get in. As well, he reported there were two more COVID-19 patients that could potentially get moved to ICU.

"It demonstrates the strain that COVID has put on the system because, apart from managing COVID, we have people who require management of a stroke or diabetes, so there are other issues and that's put a further strain on our capacity and the ability to function in the ICU," explained Dr. Abbu.

Meantime, as of Tuesday morning, Dr. Abbu said BTHC went three full days without having to transfer a COVID patient to another health care facility. The rate of emergency room visits of people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms had also levelled off.

As well, Dr. Abbu hoped that by the end of the day Tuesday one COVID-19 patient would be enrolled in a virtual outpatient program launched at BTHC last week. The program, according to Dr. Abbu, is an attempt to send patients home who are likely on the downward end of the virus, with oxygen, in order to free up hospital beds.

Looking ahead, Dr. Abbu is aiming to ramp up surgeries at BTHC in the next week-and-a-half now that the influx of COVID-19 patients at the facility appears to have levelled off. He says they'll reach two-thirds O-R capacity by then, and hopes to get back to normal functioning by mid-July.

"It's based on our current capacity, and also the ability for us to perhaps transfer some of our patients out of Boundary Trails to other hospitals. It's imperative that we keep the surgical program moving because we don't really want to delay cancer surgery, and joint replacement, that kind of thing," noted Dr. Abbu. Staff from the operating ward continue to be deployed to other areas of the hospital.

Overall, Dr. Abbu says the community needs to keep positive during this time.

"I would like people to know we are doing the best we can, we have your interests in our minds, and we respect everyone's opinions on things like vaccines, and when you get sick we want you to know that we are here to help you," said Dr. Abbu. "We would certainly love to see more people being vaccinated because we think that is the key to improving our longterm situation and easing the lockdown, but again, those are difficult choices for some, and I would encourage it and yet respect everybody's opinions."