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Barrie Memorial now providing care for COVID-19 patients as hospitals fill

Hospitalizations have been on the rise in the Montérégie since the start of the “fifth wave” in early December, with more COVID-19-positive patients in hospitals now than at any other time during the pandemic. This increase has led to a significant change in status for the Barrie Memorial Hospital, which is now equipped with ten beds reserved for patients with COVID-19.

“During previous waves, the Montérégie-West Integrated Health and Social Services Centre (CISSSMO) had limited its COVID hospital units to the Suroît Hospital and the Anna-Laberge Hospital,” says Catherine Brousseau, a communications officer with the CISSSMO. “Due to the emergence of the Omicron variant, the Barrie Memorial Hospital was called upon to help,” she explains.

As of January 23, there were eight active cases at the Barrie Memorial, while the Suroît Hospital in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield reported 47 active cases, including two patients in intensive care. At least 50 patients were admitted to the Anna Laberge Hospital in Chateauguay with COVID-19, including one in the ICU.

Brousseau adds that the CISSSMO is still facing a labour shortage brought on by the pandemic, with about 400 out of 11,000 employees currently absent from work due to COVID-19.

Local outbreaks

An outbreak of the highly contagious virus has hit the Résidence Ormstown retirement home, where at least 20 active cases were recorded on January 23, which accounts for 80 per cent of residents. The Residence Riviera in Huntingdon is also managing an outbreak with 11 cases having been diagnosed. At least 15 residents at the Résidence La Belle Rose in Saint-Chrysostome have also tested positive.

17 residents living on the first floor of the Centre d’Hébergement du Comté de Huntingdon (Huntingdon Residential and Long-term Care Centre) have been diagnosed, as well as eight residents on the second floor. A single case has been identified at the Centre d’Hébergement Ormstown. No deaths linked to current outbreaks were recorded as of press time.

Cases remain high

The Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec reported 140 new cases in the Haut-Saint-Laurent local health network (LHN) on January 24, a total of 441 cases in the Suroît LHN, 686 cases in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges LHN, and 1,029 in the Jardins-Roussillon LHN. The availability of rapid tests and the government’s limited screening strategy, which restricts access to PCR testing outside of priority groups, means daily case counts released by the province are likely an underrepresentation of the virus’s spread.

According to the Direction de Santé Publique de la Montérégie, the vaccination rate in the Haut-Saint-Laurent for a single dose remains just below 80 per cent, while 73.8 per cent of the eligible population has received at least two doses. Appointments for booster shots continue to be available to the general public over the age of 18 through the portal. The government is also now recommending a fourth dose to those who are immunocompromised or currently on dialysis.

According to Rob Buttars, the director general of the New Frontiers School Board, a second round of vaccinations for students aged 5 to 11 will take place at Valley elementary schools in partnership with the CISSSMO. Mobile vaccination units will begin to be established at schools in early February, and the campaign is expected to last a few weeks. Currently at least 58 per cent of the region’s children in this age cohort have received a first dose.

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