'Very sick' patients continue to put pressure on Waterloo region's hospitals, doctor says

Dr. Frank Reinders says if people could see the impact COVID-19 is having on individuals in local hospitals, they'd understand 'it's not just any flu or cold.' Region of Waterloo Public Health reported 27 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

If people could see the impact, they'd understand 'it's not just any flu or cold'

Over the past three days, there were four COVID-19 admissions to hospitals in Waterloo-Wellington. That makes up a quarter of the 16 admissions over the same time period for the whole province, says Dr. Frank Reinders, physician lead for Waterloo-Wellington critical care. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

Hospitals in Waterloo region have seen a steady flow of patients both with and without COVID-19, meaning front-line workers who were pushed to respond to the pandemic continue to feel there's no end in sight, says the physician lead for Waterloo-Wellington critical care.

Staff in critical care are "devastated. They're tired. The staff has been worked to the very end, from the nursing staff to the respiratory therapists to the cleaning staff," Dr. Frank Reinders said Monday during an interview on CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's The Morning Edition.

"You can ask people to do extraordinary things for a couple weeks and a month. Very difficult to ask and expect people to do extraordinary things, and work really to the edge for a year."

Reinders said the local hospitals have been busy over the last two months, even as other hospitals in Ontario have started reporting not having any COVID-19 patients in care.

He noted over the past three days, there were four admissions to hospitals in Waterloo-Wellington (which includes St. Mary's General in Kitchener, Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, Cambridge Memorial Hospital and Guelph General Hospital).

That, he noted, made up a quarter of all COVID-19-related hospital admissions in the province, which saw 16 patients.

On top of that, Reinders said, they continue to see non-COVID-19 patients, some of whom are sicker than they might normally be because of delayed treatment.

"The staff is frustrated, obviously. We're just doing the best we can."

Dr. Frank Reinders is the physician lead for Waterloo-Wellington critical care. (St. Mary's General Hospital)

Patients are 'very sick'

Reinders said patients they're seeing at St. Mary's General Hospital are younger, generally in their 30s to 50s, and they're "very sick."

"These patients are staying in the intensive-care units for sometimes weeks."

Last week, 10 patients were moved out of the region, he said:

  • Four from St. Mary's General Hospital.
  • Three from Grand River Hospital.
  • Three from Cambridge Memorial Hospital.

The patients were moved to Windsor, Hamilton and London hospitals, and Reinders explained just how sick one person was.

"Their lungs were so bad and the virus had taken over their body so vigorously that they had to go on artificial life support for blood flow and to take over function of the heart and the lungs," he said.

"If people understood really what is happening to some of these patients, and how devastating it is for them and their families, I think they would think differently and, you know, it's not just any flu or cold."

Listen to the full interview with Dr. Frank Reinders:

Dr. Frank Reinders is the physician lead for Waterloo-Wellington critical care and he says the three hospitals in Waterloo region are still in the midst of the third wave of COVID-19. Patients continue to be admitted with the virus and they are younger and sicker than before. Staff, meanwhile, continue to push to provide care despite being tired and frustrated, he says. 9:32

27 new cases, hospitalizations rise

Region of Waterloo Public Health reported 27 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, with no new deaths.

The number of people in the region's three hospital rose by four to 25, with 17 of those in the ICU. 

There were 288 active cases as of Monday.

As well, there were 15 active outbreaks:

  • Workplaces: Eight.
  • Long-term care or retirement homes: Three.
  • Hospitals: Two.
  • Congregate settings: Two.

The region's dashboard shows 80.73 per cent of people aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 53.59 per cent of those 18 and older have both doses.

Earlier in the day, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted the province was reporting 114 new cases of COVID-19. Of that, 18 were in Grey-Bruce, 15 were in Waterloo region and 10 were in Toronto. The numbers differ from what the region reports because they're taken from the database at different times.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit warned an outbreak had been declared that was linked to a field party near Chesley on July 3. It was believed 25 people attended the party and at least five cases have been linked to it.

"Anyone who attended this gathering is considered a high-risk contact, and should isolate and be tested immediately," the health unit said in a release.


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