Hospitals in Interior Health region well over capacity | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Hospitals in Interior Health region well over capacity

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Following the Christmas holiday season, occupancy at hospitals in the Interior Health region have been at 115% to 117% of capacity.

“It’s not uncommon for us to see increases in cases in January,” Karl Hardt, interim director, communications and engagement with Interior Health, told today, Jan. 11. “It’s related to respiratory season as well as other injuries we tend to see in the winter months.”

What is unusual is the surge in colds, flu and COVID has forced the province to open 20 emergency response centres around the province.

READ MORE: Predicted surge in patients prompts B.C. to reopen hospital emergency centres

Six of those are in the Interior Health region, including Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon. The other two are in Trail and Cranbrook.

Interior Health teams started meeting daily this week and are also meeting with their provincial counterparts to make sure resources are best used around the province.

“A lot of the discussions are around getting people the right care in the right location, moving people out, making sure they’re ready to go to the community or ready to go to long-term care,” Hardt said. “We have the resources in place to get them to those locations and getting people from the emergency departments into hospital beds as quickly as possible.”

What that means on the ground is an increase in the amount of support services with either existing staff working more hours or bringing on more staff. That includes things like getting home support care for people leaving hospitals in place right away so beds can be freed up for others, and facilitating with pharmacists to make sure people get the medications they need.

“Right now, we’re maintaining all services,” Hardt said. “Part of all of this work is to ensure that we do keep surgeries going because we know how important they are to people. It’s not just the emergency ones. The less urgent ones also impact people’s quality of life.”

At this point no patients have had to be relocated to other facilities but that’s always a possibility.

Patients from Northern Health, for example, were moved to Lower Mainland hospitals during COVID when northern hospitals were over capacity.

Interior Health helped Northern Health in the past when they had staffing shortages and Northern Health pitched in to help their southern neighbours during wildfire season, Hardt said.

“We’re ready to quickly adapt if one site is facing challenges,” he said. “People who need emergency care should continue to come to the emergency rooms at all our hospitals.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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