Summer struggles with high COVID-19 cases made area 'stronger,' says hospital CEO

Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj says our region hasn't let its guard down like other areas, which puts us in a better position to avoid the surge seen in other parts of the province.

No break from COVID-19 prepared us for the fall

Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj says Windsor-Essex has been vigilant over the summer after significant outbreaks. Something no one here wants to see again. (CBC)

Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj likens it to baseball playoffs heading into the World Series. Last time the Tigers had a break before the World Series and lost to the team that had to fight all the way to the big show.

"We never really had a break from COVID," said Musyj. "We haven't rested. We started preparing for the fall back in July."

"I think it kept us going, kept us on edge, exhausted a lot of people, but kept us moving ... and to be in a good position for now," said Musyj. "We never really had a break from COVID,  I think because of that, we're stronger in the sense that we haven't rested."

So now with another surge looming, this area is more used to practicing precautions, unlike other areas of the province that saw fewer numbers in the summer and may have slipped back into old ways.

Windsor Regional Hospital operates two COVID-19 assessment centres. One is at the Ouellette Campus and one at St. Clair College's Sportsplex. (Tom Addison/CBC)

But Musyj warns with the possibility of 1,000 new cases a day in two weeks, if numbers of positive cases do increase, it will eventually lead to more hospitalizations and cancellations of some elective surgeries.

"That's when you start seeing people on [ventilators], that's when you start, unfortunately, seeing deaths," said Musyj.

As of Thursday there were only 44 active cases in the area and one new case reported.  Musyj credits the precautions he sees people taking in the area overall.

Musyj said they have been seeing more children coming to the assessment centres for testing and credits the work of the doctors and pediatricians on site.

"We knew we were going to start seeing more cases in our younger population and in children in particular. So we wanted to have that expertise available at the site," said Chief of Staff Dr. Wassim Saad, referring to the two doctors and one pediatrician they have at the St. Clair College assessment centre. There are three doctors on site at the Ouellette Campus.

Dr. Wassim Saad, chief of staff at Windsor Regional Hospital, says the pandemic has shown deficiencies at the hospital. (Amy Dodge/CBC)

The hospital is also on track at getting a testing machine for mid-month.

But Saad and Musyj both agree the pandemic is far from over and it we will be dealing with this late into 2021, and according to Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam, into 2022.

"We're planning for the worst and hoping for the best," said Musyj, following Thursday's board of directors meeting.

"If we're talking about this October 1st, 2021, which sounds like we're going to be for sure, we have to make some progress safely and we have to start thinking about things moving forward. So we are thinking about things moving forward," he said.

When it comes to how COVID-19 has affected the progress of the mega-hospital Musyj says it has delayed it, but it has also made it clear to the province that the hospital is needed, due to the lack of private rooms.

"Because we have to test people that come in and they have to be cleared of COVID before we can put them in with other people we lose 30 beds in this place," said Musyj, adding that instead of 20 per cent of rooms being private, it should be 80 per cent, as it will be in the new hospital.

"Now that the pandemic's happened, it's highlighted a lot of our deficiencies," said Dr. Saad. "The premier saw clearly, recognized that we need it, and now he's fighting for it. So I think the pandemic has catapulted us forward in our progress toward the mega hospital."

The pandemic has resulted in a $4.3 million deficit so far this year, but Musyj is confident the province will make up the difference.


Dale Molnar

Video Journalist

Dale Molnar is an award-winning video journalist at CBC Windsor. He is a graduate of the University of Windsor and has worked in television, radio and print.

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