Squamish emergency room admissions down by about 50% | Squamish Chief

Squamish emergency room admissions down by about 50%

Hospital still waiting for a COVID-19 surge: president of SGH Medical Staff Association

Judging by the number of admissions to the hospital, it seems like Squamish's battle against COVID-19 is going "OK," says a local doctor, but people should not relax when it comes to social distancing.

"There are definitely cases in the community, but we are not seeing people with a lot of significant respiratory illness presenting to the hospital at this time," said Dr. Glenn Stelzl, president of the Medical Staff Association of Squamish General Hospital.

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Stelzl, however, added, that he's wary about sounding too upbeat, as now is not the time for complacency.

"We're still waiting for that surge — whether that will come or not, I don't know," he said.

At the moment, it's unclear how many COVID-19 cases are in Squamish, Stelzl said, as he doesn't have much more information than what's given out in the daily briefings with Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer.

The province is only releasing cases by health authority region, and Squamish falls under Vancouver Coastal Health, which is a massive area that covers much of the Metro Vancouver area.

Specific information is only given out in cases where outbreaks have occurred. Some examples include the long-term seniors care facilities that recently made headlines.

Henry's briefings have suggested that B.C. appears to be flattening the curve. However, she's said that social distancing measures can't be relaxed.

"I think we get that sense as well," said Stelzl. "[But we shouldn't] let up at all."

It also appears as if many people are getting the message about avoiding dangerous activities.

He said the emergency room is receiving about half the patients that it normally does.

"People continue to hurt themselves — whether it's locals or out-of-towners — I'm not sure if there's much of a distinction there, but not nearly in the same volumes that we see on regular sunny...Saturdays or Sundays," said Stelzl.

"Our emergency volumes are definitely significantly down from usual."

Authorities and local recreation groups have been advising adventurers to avoid risky activities and stay at home.

The idea was to stop injured adventurers from taking beds that might be needed for COVID-19 patients, as well as to avoid cramming people in waiting rooms, which would present a challenge for social distancing.

Stelzl, however, is concerned that as people grow impatient and the weather improves, things could change.

To his knowledge, there are still four ventilators in Squamish, Stelzl said, and they haven't been redistributed to other areas of the province.

"I think the measures that were undertaken by the local medical community and the hospital and the health authority here have been enacted well — and knock on wood, will continue to be effective — but I don't want anyone to get complacent," he said.

He noted that the crisis has been particularly hard on seniors, who've found themselves isolated due to increased social distancing measures. However, those measures have been important, as they are particularly at risk.

Finally, Stelzl expressed gratitude for the community's 7 p.m. applause.

"It's really heartfelt — it really makes a big difference for everyone," he said.

He added that it's not just doctors and nurses who deserve credit — people like custodians, technicians and other staff working at the hospital are also key players in this game.

"They're the front line as much as all the rest of us," he said.





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