PRHC working to resume non-urgent care, but it’s going to take time

Hospital vice-president Dr. Lynn Mikula says 'restarting the engine of health care won't happen overnight'

Non-urgent appointments, tests, and procedures at Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) remain on hold until the hosptial can complete the necessary planning set out in a framework provided by the Ontario government. (Photo: Michael Hurcomb)
Non-urgent appointments, tests, and procedures at Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) remain on hold until the hosptial can complete the necessary planning set out in a framework provided by the Ontario government. (Photo: Michael Hurcomb)

While non-urgent appointments, tests, and procedures remain on hold at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC), hospital vice-president Dr. Lynn Mikula says the hospital is actively working toward a return to normalcy in accordance with criteria set forth by the Province.

Last week, the Ontario government provided a framework to help hospitals assess their readiness and better plan for the gradual resumption of scheduled surgeries and procedures, while still maintaining the capacity to respond to COVID-19.

Dr. Mikula says that framework is guiding PRHC as it looks ahead.

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“In order to resume non-urgent care, specific readiness criteria must be met in both the community and hospital,” she says.

“These include having a 30-day supply of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) on hand, the ability to maintain a certain amount of capacity within the hospital to meet a pandemic-related medical surge, and developing a coordinated regional plan for resuming non-urgent care.”

“Restarting the engine of health care won’t happen overnight,” Dr. Mikula notes. “We also won’t go back quickly to where we were before. We will have to stay ready for future surges, which means keeping the hospital bed occupancy at about 85 per cent. This might mean we won’t be able to do as much as before.”

Speaking to the criteria as it pertains to PRHC, Dr. Mikula says “there are some parts of PPE where we are in very good shape (but) there are other PPE items where we don’t currently have a 30-day supply on hand,” adding PRHC is working on resolving that shortfall.

“In terms of clinical capacity, today our occupancy is 84 and one half per cent. What we’re aiming for is to keep it below 85 per cent. Today we’re good, tomorrow that may well shift. Prior to the pandemic, we typically operated at or above 100 per cent (clinical capacity), so this is going to take a lot of coordination and creative thinking to manage things in this new world.”

While PRHC strives to meet those criteria, Dr. Mikula says PRHC’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has provided a template that will serve the hospital well moving forward.

“We’re not wasting this opportunity to learn,” she says. “We’re actually in the midst of doing a big learning and debrief activity to gather the lessons learned and decide what we’re going to take forward from here.”

“This was a real test of our emergency response system. In the early days (of the pandemic), we were planning for the very worse. Those plans are now developed and if we to activate and implement them we are ready to do so at a moment’s notice. We’ve learned a lot about what we can do and we’re going to keep taking lessons away from this.”

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To date, the PRHC Assessment Centre had tested 4,000 people. The hospital is treating one COVID-19 patient in its intensive care unit, while a hospital staff member who previously tested positive is currently self-isolating at home.

An appointment with the PRHC Assessment Centre can be made by calling 705-876-5086. The centre is open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

As of Tuesday morning (May 12), there have been 73 positive COVID-19 cases detected in Peterborough city and county, Curve Lake and Hiawatha with 62 of those cases now resolved. More than 4,800 have been tested for the virus in the region.

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Paul Rellinger
Paul Rellinger a.k.a Relly is an award-winning journalist and longtime former newspaper editor still searching for the perfect lead. When he's not putting pen to paper, Paul is on a sincere but woefully futile quest to own every postage stamp ever issued. A rabid reader of history, Paul claims to know who killed JFK but can't say out of fear for the safety of his oh so supportive wife Mary, his three wonderful kids and his three spirited grandchildren. Paul counts among his passions Peterborough's rich live music scene, the Toronto Maple Leafs, slopitch and retrieving golf balls from the woods. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @rellywrites.

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