The emergency department entrance to St. Paul's hospital in downtown Vancouver was relatively quiet last Thursday, March 19. How long it stays that way remains to be seen. Health professionals across the country are currently preparing for a surge in COVID-19 cases. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

COVID-19: Hospitals brace for a surge

As Canadians continue to grapple with the emergency measures being taken to fight COVID-19–from closing schools to shutting down parks to closing all-but-essential businesses and services–they must also come to terms with a virus attack that they know is likely going to get a whole lot worse before it gets any better.

And nobody knows this more than the Canadian health professionals on the front lines, who like many professionals around the world, are likely already struggling with depression and anxiety.

The CBC’s Amina Zafar reports today that doctors and public health officials are bracing for an onslaught of new cases from people exposed before the border and social distancing measures began.

“It’s this kind of calm before the storm,” Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease physician at the University of Alberta, told Zafar.

 “In other areas, we see the storm is starting. We have a more mature epidemic happening in B.C.”

A nurse greets patients outside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) assessment center in Ottawa on Wednesday. Hospitals are bracing for a ‘storm’ of cases as the pandemic continues, in part because of a fear people will lower their guard and relax their social distancing measures. (Patrick Doyle/Reuters)

Dr. Stephanie Smith, director of infection prevention and control at the University of Alberta, told Zafar that because  it can take up to 14 days for symptoms of COVID-19 to appear, it is too early to tell how much of an effect the physical distancing measures and closures are having in Canada.

“It’s become very clear that the earlier you can institute these measures, the better off you’re going to be,” Smith said.

In Toronto, Dr. Michael Gardam, the chief of staff and an infectious disease physician at Humber River Hospital, told Zafar that he is scrambling to stockpile masks to protect his staff.

He’s also trying to source ventilators and juggle teleconferences as people question plans based on the results of the latest COVID-19 studies from around the world.

“It feels like you’re trying to gather up water with your hands,” Gardam told Zafar. 

“For those of us in health care it’s hell. We haven’t hit our surge yet. People are already tired and it hasn’t started.”

With files from CBC (Amina Zafar, Nicole Mortillaro, Kelly Crowe)

Categories: Health, International
Tags: , , , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

For reasons beyond our control, and for an undetermined period of time, our comment section is now closed. However, our social networks remain open to your contributions.