Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com

MUSKOKA — By today 450 staff at Muskoka’s two hospitals will have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine — as “occupancy is high” with unrelated COVID-19 cases.

Natalie Bubela, CEO of Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC), said in an email Friday that as of the end of Sunday, Jan. 10, health-care workers at the Bracebridge and Huntsville sites will have received the first of the two doses they will get.

This as RVH deals with a major COVID outbreak Saturday — of seven patients and two staff.

Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie said yesterday that it had declared the outbreak on its integrated stroke and rehabilitation unit in seven patients who recently received care in one section of the 40-bed unit have tested positive for COVID-19, along with two staff members who are safely self-isolating at home.

Bubela told MuskokaTODAY.com: “Currently, it is business as usual” at MAHC “and we continue to perform surgeries and other procedures.”

She said that capacity concerns over a COVID patient in ICU being transferred to RVH — where he died before Christmas — were unfounded.

“I cannot comment on specific patients,” Bubela said.

“However, I can assure you that your suggestion is not accurate.

“And before Christmas, over the holidays — and even today — our ICUs have open beds.”

Asked about general hospital operations and how MAHC is being affected by the pandemic after 10 months, Bubela said: “Overall, occupancy is high with admitted patients requiring hospital care unrelated to COVID-19. Currently, it is business as usual and we continue to perform surgeries and other procedures.”

In Barrie, a release says all patients on the affected unit have been swab tested, are safely quarantining in their rooms and are being monitored closely for symptoms.

All patients on the unit are on droplet/contact isolation and will be re-tested within the next week, or earlier if they develop symptoms.

Patients who have been previously discharged from the unit will be contacted by Public Health and advised to self-isolate in their homes.

The unit is closed to new admissions and transfers.

“We are working closely with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and our occupational health and wellness team to conduct a full contact tracing investigation to determine the source of the exposure and risk to other TEAM RVH members and patients on the unit,” says Janice Skot, RVH president and CEO.

She says RVH has implemented its outbreak management protocol, which includes enhanced cleaning, surveillance, education and frequent communication to patients. As a further precaution, all staff who have recently provided care on the unit will be tested.

RVH was caring for a record 37 COVID-positive patients as of Saturday.

And to increase capacity RVH has opened another patient care unit to care for COVID positive and pending patients.

RVH currently has a ‘no visitor’ restriction in place and, in keeping with our policy, visitors will be permitted based on compassionate grounds only.

It’s “business as usual” at MAHC despite high occupancy unrelated to COVID-19, its CEO Natalie Bubela told MuskokaTODAY.com

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