By Sean Delaney
A hospital can be an intimidating place to go. A daunting trip to make.
It isn’t a place you typically head to on an evening or a morning where you’re looking for a recreational or pleasure pursuit. No, it’s typically a place you head when something is wrong.
And during a global pandemic, it will become a place people will avoid.
People may feel a hospital is a place during a pandemic where they will get sick. Still, also, they may feel after news story after news story about the capacity that the hospital simply doesn‘t have time for them or is better off without their ‘minor’ issue.
The battle against the pandemic is essential, the dedication and determination residents have shown in their efforts have been necessary and appreciated. Still, Jhanvi Solanki, program director for surgical services at Humber River Hospital, said that she is happy to send the message now, that it is time to come on back.
“Yes, the message is come on back,” said Solanki. “Let’s start all of those routine screenings; let’s get those checkups. The hospital is ready to receive the community back.”
Solanki said population health has dropped because of that fear of COVID-19, as well as the various restrictions and shut downs that have kept people away from getting necessary tests, screenings, or even just visits in that they would have in normal times. And with that, many have missed what would have been scheduled tests and updates, while the hospital is aware many may not have come to ask about potential ailments or concerns they may have personally deemed unnecessary during COVID-19.
“Essentially, the basic ask would be to begin to get those screening pieces done again,” said Solanki. “From a wellness standpoint, we want to make sure the community stays healthy and vibrant, and prevention more than just reacting to things is a part of that. See your family doctor, see your specialist. The health of the hospital is only as good as the health of the community. We want to do as much prevention work as treatment and care.”
Solanki said the province will continue to struggle in the healthcare industry as a reaction to the pandemic times – an already strained system from COVID-19 will now have to work toward not only recovery but the challenge of ensuring that the surgical and procedural backlogs are addressed. Hospital workers, even if they return to normal schedules, have been overworked and burdened for quite some time. But the hospital is working toward positives there as well.
“As the rates are getting better, we’ve opened up as much capacity as possible,” Solanki said. “Usually, hospitals slow down over the summer, so that should give us some time to refresh staff while we aggressively recruit.”
To help staff during the transition out of the pandemic, Humber River Hospital has put extra training in place for nurses and staff and to advance their skills and responsibilities. Solanki said they want to make sure they are not only well staffed, but that their staff is well prepared.
Starting in September, Solanki said, the hospital must also prepare to begin working at over capacity in some departments in order to catch up on items created during the pandemic, such as the surgical backlog.
“The other aspect is most hospitals are looking at more efficiency work as well,” Solanki said. “Looking at measures to convert surgeries that might be more patient-oriented into day procedures, measures to better optimize hospital capacity, so we can make sure the patient experience is better.
“Essentially right now within the community we’re seeing a drop in the community accessing resources, such as colonoscopies, screenings for breast, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, mammograms. So, we want to encourage the community to go out and start seeking those resources. Come back to the hospital so we can get you lined up for the right treatments and catch some of these things early.”
To find out more about the Humber River Hospital, visit: hrh.ca