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'Unlike anything we've seen': Ottawa Hospital makes operational changes to tackle Omicron wave

The hospital and its staff are experiencing "tremendous strain" and it hasn't been "business as usual" during this wave of the pandemic.
20200926_ottawa hospital
The Ottawa Hospital. (Photo/Dani-Elle Dubé)

Staff at The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 Omicron variant and it’s forcing the hospital to rethink its strategy as it deals with the virus.

In a Twitter thread posted on Friday, January 14, TOH said that while new measures have been put in place to address the rising number of patients, the hospital remains hopeful good things are on the horizon.

“As the current COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, this wave is unlike anything we have seen during this pandemic, at the hospital [and] in our community,” the hospital tweeted. “We’ve had to make changes to how we operate. As much as we hate to say it — it’s not business as usual.”

While the severity of many COVID cases in hospital are lower than in previous waves, TOH said that because of the high transmissibility of Omicron, combined with staffing and space challenges, it’s created “tremendous strain.”

“We have moved from trying to contain the virus to instead working to manage the effects of COVID-19 on the health-care system,” TOH said. “While this has presented many challenges, provincial experts are forecasting that we will start to see this wave peak towards the end of [January].”

In the meantime, the hospital said it is focusing on stabilizing its staffing and space shortage, and resuming surgical and ambulatory activity.

This means TOH has looked outside of its walls for additional support and has secured internationally trained nurses to help out in areas of the hospital that need additional help.

However, until then, staff and physicians have been redeployed to new areas where they are needed, and TOH has opened a temporary “unconventional” space to provide care to patients.

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