Hundreds of Interior Health employees called in sick during Omicron wave | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Hundreds of Interior Health employees called in sick during Omicron wave

Image Credit: PEXELS

Between 800 to 900 Interior Health employees called in sick during the peak of COVID-19’s Omicron wave earlier this year.

Tracey Rannie, Royal Inland Hospital executive director, gave an update on hospital operations during the most recent Thompson Nicola Hospital District meeting, March 24. Service reductions starting in mid-January allowed health-care workers to be reassigned and redeployed in key areas.

“It was really to mitigate the staff sickness and by reducing the services we were able to redeploy those staff to areas where there were sick calls,” she said.

READ MORE: Interior Health closing rural ERs, rescheduling surgeries to cope with staff shortage

At its peak, Interior Health experienced between 800 to 900 sick calls per day, 30% of which were attributed to COVID-19, according to Rannie's presentation.

By redeploying staff, more than 4,000 positions were filled. The areas that experienced a service reduction were Clearwater, Lillooet, Barriere and Ashcroft. More than 250 staff volunteered to be deployed across the region, including 130 hospital staff, she said.

“It was impactful to many but it was definitely successful and supportive to many sites that required additional staff,” she said. The shortage impacted urgent and emergent services and the heart clinic at the hospital.

Interior Health is now phasing back to regular services with full function, she said.

Rannie said capacity issues are ongoing but 44 long-term care beds have opened at Ponderosa Lodge “which helped immensely."

Despite postponing many surgeries in January, many non-urgent surgeries were still being completed during the service reduction, she said.

The opening of the Phil and Jennie Gaglardi patient care tower marks “a new era” that will help recruit staff and boost morale, Rannie said. The tower is set to open to patients in July.

The cost of the project is approximately $417 million. The provincial government contributed $203.5 million, the Thompson Regional Hospital District contributed $172 million, Interior Health contributed $21.6 million and the RIH Foundation provided $20 million, which will go toward the purchase of equipment, according to a press release from the Ministry of Health last week.

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