Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) is feeling the effects of increased rates of infectious diseases and a flu season which has not yet reached its peak. This week, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit declared widespread community influenza activity as lab-confirmed flu cases jumped by 50 (between December 31 and January 6) for a total of 198 cases to date this season.*
“As an acute care hospital, we have not been immune to this increase in community illness,” says Dawn Major, chief performance, quality and risk officer, GBGH. “In our Emergency Department we are also seeing the highest rates of respiratory illness we have seen in the past 12 months. In the past week, we have also seen an increased number of admissions of patients with community-acquired c. difficile. It’s really proving to be a particularly challenging year for hospitals dealing with a variety of infectious diseases.”
To reduce the risk of transmitting infections in the hospital, GBGH is following strict preventative measures, including co-horting patients and increased cleaning hospital-wide, including all high-touch surfaces.
“It’s also important the public understands the impact they can have on our patient’s safety,” says Major. “We ask the public to not visit GBGH if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, fever, chills and sweats, headache, and muscle and joint pain. If a visitor is healthy and needs to see someone in the hospital, we ask they limit their visit to one patient only and always practice hand hygiene upon entering and exiting a patient room, as well as entering and exiting the building.”
When possible, the public is also reminded to visit their family physician for minor illnesses instead of the hospital’s Emergency department (ED). As GBGH’s ED is currently undergoing the final stage of renovations, the hospital is experiencing space constraints and asks patients to only be accompanied by one person.
“As hospitals we know flu season arrives each winter, but in a year where we’re already experiencing occupancy rates consistently over 100 per cent for months, it really does make capacity issues even more challenging,” says Gail Hunt, president and CEO, GBGH. “The addition of seven temporary surge beds in late 2017 is certainly helping to ease the capacity crisis this winter and we will continue working with our team to optimize all available space for patient care.”
* For more information on weekly influenza surveillance, please visit: