UPDATED: ‘We believe a wave is coming’: hospital relaunches COVID-19 unit

Tara Jeffrey

The Covid-19 Unit is returning to Bluewater Health.

“We are close to our internal ‘trigger’ for opening that unit,” hospital spokesperson Julia Oosterman told The Journal Tuesday, pointing to six covid-positive patients and an Intensive Care Unit that’s currently 100% full.

“We believe a wave is coming,” she added. “We must prepare.”

Oosterman also noted it takes 24 hours to move and deep clean entire units in order to open what’s known as the ‘Med C’ unit, first established back in March, in place until a few remaining patients were moved to Acute Medicine on April 30.

“We are expecting transfers from other hot-spot regions,” she added. “We are now outpacing Toronto and Peel for percent rate of infection (per 100,000).”

On Tuesday, Bluewater Health chief of staff Dr. Mike Haddad wrote in a Twitter post that bed occupancy of all medical units was 100%.

In a news release issued Tuesday, Windsor Regional Hospital officials say they anticipate as many as 20 patients may require transfer this week to Bluewater Health in Sarnia and Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA).

Meanwhile, Ron Realesmith, who heads up the city’s emergency management office, said there are no immediate plans to re-establish a field hospital previously set up at Lambton College during the first wave of the pandemic, noting the hospital is well prepared to accommodate and transition ahead of a potential influx of covid-19 patients.

“We’re fully engaged and we’re ready to deploy and provide any assistance they need,” said Smith. “We’re on standby.”

The original 150-bed field hospital was a joint effort between Bluewater Health, the City of Sarnia, and Lambton College, and was set up in April for an overflow of potential covid-19 patients, but was never used. It was dismantled in June, but as Smith noted, can be readied quickly, in about a day.

Sarnia-Lambton’s COVID-19 case count continues to balloon with record numbers again Tuesday bringing total infections to more than 1,000. Another 77 new cases were logged, bringing the active caseload to 323, up from 293 Monday.

Another 47 cases were resolved, while the number of outbreaks remained unchanged at 16.

Seven of those outbreaks are currently in Long Term Care homes, including the most recent declared at Fairwinds Lodge declared on Jan. 4, where one patient and two staff have tested positive. Another seven outbreaks are active at local workplaces. Lambton Public Health says workplaces will only be named ‘if public notification will help to identify additional close contacts that cannot be determined through contract tracing.’ 

Loblaw Companies Ltd. had previously posted employees at Sarnia’s Real Canadian Superstore tested positive for the virus on Jan.3. The company also posted that two team members tested positive Jan. 5. The company regularly updates all positive cases on its website.

Two school outbreaks remain active, with four cases linked to Confederation Central School, and two linked to Great Lakes Secondary School.

The province’s website shows four Lambton County childcare centres each with a single active case — three children and one staff. They include Sir John Moore YMCA School Age in St. Clair Township; Lambton Rural Child Care – Home Child Care, Oil Springs; North Lambton Child Care Centre, Lambton Shores; and NLCC – Kinnwood Central, Lambton Shores (staff case).

The province also confirmed one active case at Sarnia Jail, reported Dec. 29.

Aamjiwnaang First Nation is reporting four active cases. In a Facebook post Tuesday, band administration noted the cases “do not indicate widespread community transmission within Aamjiwnaang.”

Ontario added 3,128 new cases Tuesday, along with 51 new deaths linked to the virus.