By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Northumberland Hills Hospital has seen the milestones of the ebbing acuity of the COVID-19 pandemic – from the closure of the Coughs, Colds and COVID Assessment Centre trailer to the receipt of a lovely certificate from the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit acknowledging their role in the pandemic response.
But the closed, empty trailer is an especially powerful symbol, NHH President and Chief Executive Officer Susan Walsh reflected at the April board meeting.
Walsh recalled that the assessment centre had been originally set up inside a cordoned-off area within the hospital when it opened March 14, 2022. The trailer was brought in, initially, offering COVID-only services. In December, with the sharp increase of respiratory infections, the other services were added.
The trailer closed on March 31. In all, including the time when a satellite office in Canton also offered COVID-assessment services as well as other outreach efforts, more than 55,000 individual visits were made.
The virus remains in circulation – Board Chair Beth Selby noting that she had just had her sixth COVID shot – and steps to minimize risk continue to be recommended.
“Beyond March 31, individuals seeking testing, assessment and treatment options for COVID-19 or respiratory-focused illnesses will have several options, including their primary-care provider and participating pharmacies in Northumberland County and surrounding areas,” Walsh’s report said.
“Individuals must meet Ontario COVID-19 PCR testing eligibility requirements to access testing at local pharmacies. Travel testing is not included. It is recommended to call the pharmacy ahead of time to arrange the test, as service times may vary.”
Looking ahead, board member Bree Nixon wondered if the closing of the trailer might result in additional pressure on the NHH emergency room. Vice-President of Integrated Care and Chief Nursing Executive Kate Zimmerman did not think that would be a problem, saying there had been “broad engagement with our physicians and our leadership team.
“Everyone was in agreement it would not impact volumes in emergency. The cases we are seeing coming to emerg are not those that would have been managed in the COVID assessment centre.”
“We continue to have the trailer in place so we have flexibility if we need to make any changes,” Walsh added.
“We are leaving it in place right now to support any of those changes that will be required.”