Hospitals in Bracebridge and Huntsville are still holding strong through COVID-19’s third wave. 

Natalie Bubela, CEO of Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare tells MyMuskokaNow the Huntsville Site is over capacity and South Muskoka Site is under capacity which is normal still.

“We’ve been up and down to be quite frank in terms of our capacity […] we’re over capacity at the Huntsville site now we’re at 107% occupied and we do have capacity down at the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital site at around 70% occupancy but that could change very rapidly,” Bubela said.

She says the majority of the patients in hospital now are there for non-COVID-19 illnesses.

Bubela says, “This would be sort of our normal busy period so nothing’s changed with respect to that but I would strongly encourage people not to delay coming to the hospital if they feel that they need emergency care or they need diagnostic testing or surgery.”

She stressed that anything that would normally bring you to a hospital, people shouldn’t delay.

Bubela says the hospitals are operating as per usual, in some situations at slightly higher levels than the year before, in order to catch up with the waitlists that developed during the first wave. 

She says they are back to normal with respect to surgical volumes, diagnostic Imaging and many outpatient activities that are normal course of business for the hospital.

In terms of who decides who gets on the waitlists, Bubela says surgical decisions are made based on the urgency of the need.

“So anyone that’s in an emergent urgent situation would get done very rapidly if not almost within the day of them arriving in the emergency department,” she says, “For instance if they were to require emergency surgery that would be done immediately; people that have more elective types of situations would be scheduled at a time in between the Urgent and emergent surgeries and based on the priorities that the surgeon has determined,”

She clarified however that these decisions are not something the hospital does, it’s up to the individual surgeons to determine the order in which surgeries are done.

Bubela re-stressed the importance of visiting your doctor if the need rises, mentioning intense screening protocols in place to ensure patient safety. 

“We do have active screening occurring for COVID symptoms before people enter the hospital, people are prescreened with a COVID test prior to having surgery and we require masks to be worn by everyone that’s in the hospital as well as other personal protective equipment like eye goggles or face shields […] I would say in many situations hospitals are safer and more predictable environments than you might find in the community.”

Bubela says there have been no hiccups the past year and it’s been smooth sailing in the Huntsville and Bracebridge Hospitals lately. 

“I am very proud of our credentialed staff and our front line staff and all staff actually in the hospital,” she finished saying, “Every staff member plays a critical role in keeping our community safe and in the operations of the hospital we’ve had no hiccups we’ve had no outbreaks in the organization and there’s absolute attention to keeping each other and our community safe,”

With files from Mathew Reisler