Report calls on public health officials to find ways to assess and test patients outside of hospitals
Emergency departments in hospitals in Canada are already feeling the strain as health establishments scramble to prepare for more COVID-19 coronavirus cases in the country. But the increased visits by coronavirus-fearing patients may soon overwhelm the system, according to a Canadian Press report.
“We're already seeing an impact on the pediatric emergency department,'' said Dr. Jocelyn Srigley, medical microbiologist and clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia. The number of children registering in the emergency department with flu-like symptoms is far above what is expected for this time of year, says Srigley.
And this has been the case for the past five weeks, reported the Canadian Press citing data from the BC Centre for Disease Control.
“I think it's being driven by media and fears about COVID,” says Srigley.
In Ottawa, hospitals catering to adults are having the same issues as people who need testing for different reasons are coming for tests.
Though the public was told to call public health hotlines, people answering these phones often send them to the hospital anyway, according to the report, said Dr. Brandi Read, the emergency department lead for COVID-19 strategy at the Ottawa Hospital.
“We're up to our necks'' in COVID-19 surge planning, said Dr. Dick Zoutman, the chief of staff for the Scarborough Health Network and former chair of the 2003 Ontario SARS Scientific Advisory Committee.
Scarborough's three hospitals have tested about 355 people so far, with two patients testing positive. But many more have come to the emergency department with COVID-19 concerns and have not needed testing, wrote the Canadian Press.
In eight Toronto hospitals, 135 patients were tested for COVID-19 over a month, and 95 per cent came to the emergency department with no need for emergency medical services, according to a recent Canadian Medical Association Journal article.
The authors called on public health officials to find ways to assess and test patients outside of hospitals.