Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals

Other Island hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients and will be used in a support role

Royal Jubilee and Nanaimo Regional General hospitals will be Vancouver Island’s front line hospitals in the battle against COVID-19, with other hospitals being used in a support role.

“Island Health’s pandemic plan is to cohort COVID-19 patients requiring a higher level of care to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and Royal Jubilee Hospital as primary COVID hospitals, with local sites used to support,” reads a prepared statement from Island Health.

“There are also plans in place to move additional patients currently in hospital to alternative sites, if required, based on the level of need in our acute care system. These plans include using the recently completed Summit long-term care facility in Victoria, if needed, for patients currently in hospital.”

Island hospitals have been preparing for a surge in COVID-19 cases in much the same fashion as hospitals across the province — opening as many beds as possible, and having contingency plans in place for the most serious cases.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said today (April 6) B.C.’s hospital occupancy rate is at 58 per cent for regular beds and 53 per cent for critical care beds. As of April 5, Island Health reported the average occupancy at hospitals throughout the Island is “around 70 per cent.”

As of today, there have been 79 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Island Health region. As of 9 a.m., 11 of those cases were hospitalized, including three in critical care. The Island’s first two deaths were reported Thursday.

RELATED: Vancouver Island seniors die in hospital due to COVID-19

There are 178 ventilators available on Vancouver Island, including 86 critical care ventilators, 22 transport ventilators, and 70 anesthetic machines.

“It’s important to remember that ventilators and patients can be moved to where they need to be,” Island Health said in its statement, adding that both the provincial ministry and Island Health are actively working to acquire additional ventilators.

While Island Health does not confirm specific locations of confirmed cases, as is consistent with the direction and approach of the Provincial Health Officer, local hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients.

Sources have told Black Press Media that the North Island Hospital Comox Valley campus has elevated its protocol to “Stage 2,” meaning there are hospitalized COVID-19 patients at that location.

Dr. Adam Thompson, the COVID-19 physician lead for the Comox Valley Division of Family Practice, said his group has every confidence in the preparation that has been ongoing.

“The level of planning at the hospital to prepare for COVID-19 has been professional, expert and comprehensive,” he said. “We are very grateful to all the physicians, ER doctors, specialists and family doctors who have spent many hours working alongside our nursing, allied health and administrative staff to deliver a hospital ready to cope with the changes now and ahead.”

RELATED: Recovery rate tops 60% but B.C. records death of man in his 40s due to COVID-19

Thompson added the best plan of preparation should be done by individuals, not institutions.

“Regardless of planning at the hospital, it is our community that is the frontline force against this disease,” he said. “It is through our actions of physical distancing, staying at home, and appropriate hygiene such as hand washing, that we’ll beat this virus.”

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The North Island Hospital Comox Valley campus is prepared for a COVID-19 wave. Photo by Erin Haluschak

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