Letter to the Community from William Osler Health System
On January 1, we welcomed in a new year – albeit one that looks very different from what we imagined even just a few weeks earlier. The highly-transmissible Omicron variant struck relentlessly, spreading rapidly through our community and across the world, pushing us all into unchartered waters.
The emergence of Omicron, at this particular moment in time, has put our health care system under enormous pressure. Despite this, Osler remains a safe place to receive care and to work.
Our teams continue to act swiftly to navigate the evolving situation and ensure our community has access to the health care services it needs and depends on during this difficult time.
The key challenges we face are shared by hospitals across the province. We have been seeing a significant increase in need for care across our Emergency Departments and inpatient units and, at the same time, a decrease in staffing levels with growing numbers of health care workers in isolation with COVID-19 symptoms.
It’s a reality that has required us to make some very difficult decisions. Please know that every decision we make is done with the health and safety of our patients and teams in mind. That is, and will always be, our priority.
Addressing COVID-19 challenges
On January 3, we declared a Code Orange, a temporary measure to help bring resources, laser focus and attention to urgently address our capacity pressures and staffing challenges. Our teams and partners mobilized quickly and we were able to declare the Code Orange over on January 5.
Our hospitals remain under significant pressure and on January 10, after careful consideration, we decided to temporarily close our Urgent Care Centre (UCC) at Peel Memorial in order to direct our dedicated staff and physicians to areas of greatest need. We are working towards a February 1 reopening for the UCC and are committed to doing this as soon as we are safely able.
Osler’s two Emergency Departments are open 24 hours a day, every day, for anyone requiring emergency or urgent care related to a serious injury, illness or condition.
We have taken other necessary steps to ensure we can continue to provide safe, compassionate care including temporarily cancelling elective and non-urgent services, procedures and surgeries, in line with a Directive by the Ontario Government. We have also adjusted our Visitor Policy to allow Essential Care Partners 24/7 access in hospital to support patient care at the bedside.
As we near year three of the pandemic, our teams will continue to work tirelessly, and we remain grateful for the support of our community, our government, health system partners and of course our Foundation. The support of William Osler Health System Foundation has been unwavering and helps make everything we do possible. Our experience of the last 22 months tells us that the situation can shift quickly and we know we have immense support surrounding us.
As Osler steers through the pandemic’s fifth wave, we commit to keeping you updated and informed of changes to our services.
Please continue to do your part by following the guidance of medical experts and public health officials on vaccination, masking, and physical and social distancing. And if you or a loved one require care in our hospitals we ask that you be patient and kind with our staff, physicians and volunteers who are working around-the-clock under difficult circumstances to care those in need.
We remain deeply committed to the delivery of high-quality care with compassion to our patients, and consider it a privilege to be your community hospital. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you all a safe and healthy 2022.