As Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare’s (MAHC) hospitals in Bracebridge and Huntsville continue to deal with an occupancy rate hovering over 100 percent, they have launched the #WhereToGetCareMuskoka campaign.
Dr. John Simpson, Chief and Director of Emergency Medicine for MAHC, says the idea of the campaign is to explain to residents where they should go to deal with their ailments. He says MAHC wants to conserve its emergency departments.
“People need to be able to get the right care quickly when they need it,” he says.
The website set up by MAHC details what constitutes a visit to the emergency department while linking to other resources for less urgent matters. Simpson points out that the website also has links to mental health and addictions related resources.
Simpson explains the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to cause issues for MAHC. “We’re still moving along with providing the level of care we need to and want to,” he adds but points out how it’s a “daily struggle” to keep up.
While they, like many other businesses, are dealing with staffing shortages, Simpson says he’s thankful for the “limber” staff working for MAHC. Since the pandemic began in early 2020, he says they have been willing to accept changes in their schedules to be able to support the community.
“It’s not just another summer in Muskoka,” Simpson says.
With a busy summer already underway, Simpson explains MAHC wants to make sure they’re working efficiently. “It’s kind of a pivot point in primary care,” he says.
That includes the use of virtual care, which Simpson says was hardly used prior to the onset of the pandemic. “If people don’t have to drive in to see the doctor for five minutes and park, and miss work, or change their schedule to do that, and they can do it by a phone call or video chat, then it only improves efficiency and allows us to help more people,” he explains.
While he understands that it’s a different feeling seeing a doctor through a computer or TV screen rather than in person, Simpson believes it’s easier for everyone involved to be able to have a virtual visit or for a follow-up appointment, if the situation allows for it.
With a strained hospital system, finding every efficiency possible is important. “As we see those things happen, I think it’s even more important that we try to make the most efficiencies for people and yet still provide the best care,” Simpson says.