Outbreaks of flu, other illness blamed for overcrowding at Kelowna General - InfoNews

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Outbreaks of flu, other illness blamed for overcrowding at Kelowna General

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January 09, 2017 - 2:30 PM

KELOWNA - As the holiday season comes to an end, congestion at Kelowna General Hospital is starting to decrease.

Capacity at KGH has gone from 131 per cent on Jan. 6 to 118 per cent as of this morning, Jan. 9, according to the hospital's health services director Danielle Cameron.

“Due to discharge planning, we have been able to increase patient flow through the system,” Cameron says.

During the holiday season, an increase in patient volume was attributed to influenza and gastrointestinal illness, she says. Additionally, outbreaks at several community residential care facilities meant some patients were unable to go back to their care homes and therefore could not be discharged from hospital.

Cameron says the holidays also mark a time during which people might not be able to access their primary care providers due to restricted hours and closures. This leads to local hospitals serving a greater number of patients than usual.

“When options are limited, people choose our emergency department as their option of choice,” she says.

Although December is a popular time to take holiday, Cameron says KGH plans for the season a year or more in advance.

“It’s obviously a time people would like to take off, so we’re very thoughtful on how many people can be off at those peak times while being sure to maintain safe staffing levels.”

Adding to the issues surrounding hospital capacity, there are more people getting the flu this season than previous years.

Pamela De Bruin with the Interior Health Authority says influenza activity for the Okanagan was higher on December 1, 2016 than on that date for the two past years. The influenza rate was also higher in the Thompson, Cariboo and Shuswap region.

Cameron says influenza rates continue to be about the same as they were at the end of December.

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