Windsor Regional Hospital 'cautiously optimistic' despite uptick in COVID-19 admissions

There are about 60 known active cases of COVID-19 in the region, and Windsor Regional Hospital is treating 16 of them.

Hospital has relaxed visitor restrictions as the pandemic has eased

Windsor Regional Hospital's Ouellette Campus is shown in a file photo. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

While COVID-19 case counts are declining and Windsor-Essex is inching toward normal, the impact of the pandemic is still being felt at Windsor Regional Hospital.

Right now, though there are only about 60 known active cases of COVID-19 in the region, there are 16 COVID-19 patients at the hospital.

That's an increase from around five or six patients last week, though according to Dr. Wassim Saad, the hospital's chief of staff, fluctuations are to be expected.

"We're cautiously optimistic because the overall trend is headed in the right direction, but we do notice these blips every once in a while," he said on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning on Tuesday.

As the pandemic has waned and the vaccination rate has risen, the hospital has been able to loosen visitor restrictions.

LISTEN: Dr. Wassim Saad of Windsor Regional Hospital joins Windsor Morning
Windsor Regional Hospital is allowing two essential visitors for each patient, now that the province moves closer to Step 2 of reopening. We get an update from Dr. Wassim Saad about how the pandemic is affecting the region. 9:36

Beginning last Friday, each patient is allowed to have two essential visitors, though they can only have one visitor at a time, and visiting hours have been extended.

Last month, the hospital announced it was resuming some surgeries that were put on hold by the pandemic. Saad said that outpatient services and radiology have fully resumed, and outpatient and elective surgeries are operating at around 85 to 90 per cent of usual levels.

The hospital is further behind on endoscopy services, at about 60 per cent, which Saad said was because of the redistribution of staff to vaccination and testing efforts.

"We're hoping to continue to ramp that up," he said.

Chief of Staff for Windsor Regional Hospital Dr. Wassim Saad (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

One of the trends the hospital is seeing is that COVID-19 patients are getting younger, Saad said.

In the first wave of the pandemic, those requiring hospital stays were largely in their 70s and 80s — many living in congregate settings such as long-term care and retirement homes. In wave two, the demographic shifted to those in their 50s and 60s.

Now, with the vaccination effort in full swing, admissions among older populations have tapered off.

"The number of patients that are in their 40s and 50s has started to rise. We still have the occasional patient in their 80s, but the demographic has definitely shifted," he said.

Another trend is that none of those admitted to hospital have had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

"We have yet to admit a patient to our ICU, or even our hospital, who's completed their vaccine series," he said.

Figures released by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit on Tuesday show 150,000 residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

With files from Windsor Morning