The hospitals in Bracebridge and Huntsville are at-capacity, but that’s normal.

“At this time of year it’s not uncommon for us to have overcapacity challenges,” CEO of Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare Natalie Bubela explains. “I think the hospital has handled those patients that have presented to the hospital exceptionally well.” She notes that the patients they have in their care now are not COVID-19 cases. “They’re just regular patients we would see at this time of year,” Bubela says.

According to the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit, there have been a total of 12 cases of the coronavirus in Bracebridge and 27 in Huntsville with one and two active cases respectively. 

“We have not had a large complement of covid positive patients coming through our doors,” Bubela says. With that being said, she says there is room for people who test positive for the virus at both hospitals. “We’ve done a lot of planning,” Bubela says.

If needed, they could extend the current staff if there’s help needed with critical patients that need ventilation. “We have a command centre in place that meets regularly,” she adds. Bubela says the possibility of dusting off their “Code Orange” plan is possible. “It’s a plan that looks at what steps you would take if the demand exceeds the available resources,” she explains. There’s also a plan – if needed – to scale back some services so staff can be redeployed to areas of need.

Bubela points out they also have the benefit of a partnership with the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie. There, they have a pandemic response unit where they could send patients if necessary. 

“The triggers would be around any influx of volume,” Bubela says. “Other factors that would need to be taken into consideration is the availability of staff.”

As part of Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare’s recently submitted Capital Redevelopment Plan, it’s Bubela’s hope that in the next decade two new Hospitals are built in the region. “Currently our capacity is where it needs to be in terms of meeting the demands of our community,” she says. “But in the next five to 10 years there’s no question we’ll need more capacity that what we currently have in place.”

Bubela says they are awaiting approval from the province. Once they get it, they will move to the second stage.