COVID-19: Kelowna General Hospital ‘swamped’, some surgeries being rescheduled

“Our hospital is swamped with Covid patients,” wrote Eeson, adding they are “almost entirely unvaccinated.”

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PENTICTON — COVID-19 outbreaks at two Central Okanagan seniors’ care homes are growing and surgeries at Kelowna General Hospital are being rescheduled because of a rise in COVID cases.

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With the entire Central Okanagan a hotspot for a fourth wave of the virus, and subject to enhanced regional restrictions, Interior Health says 22 cases of COVID-19 have now been reported at West Kelowna’s Brookhaven Care Centre — five residents and 17 staff.

Last Thursday, four residents there were reported as testing positive and nine staff members.

At Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna, there are now 11 cases reported — eight residents and three staff, up from just four cases among residents on Thursday.

And the overall picture is not getting any better across the Central Okanagan, where there has been a provincially ordered return to restrictions on mask-wearing in indoor public spaces, limits on gathering sizes, restrictions on restaurant operations and the closure of some businesses altogether because of the growing number of COVID-19 infections.

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New cases in the Central Okanagan are now almost all the delta variant of the virus and provincial officials say it is mainly unvaccinated people in the 20- to 40-year-old age range who are becoming infected.

Earlier this week, a local oncologist at Kelowna General Hospital, Dr. Gareth Eeson, took to Twitter saying he felt “awful” that one of his patients, as well as other KGH patients, had their scheduled treatments cancelled because of a lack of available beds at KGH.

“Our hospital is swamped with Covid patients,” wrote Eeson, adding they are “almost entirely unvaccinated.”

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Situations such as that have promoted more people to speak out and urge the unvaccinated to get the vaccine, not only for their own health but for the health of others.

Another local physician, Dr. Megan Hill, also took to Twitter this week to say she has seen firsthand that people filling KGH beds suffering from COVID-19 are not vaccinated.

“We need to keep having these talks,” she wrote. “Until it’s done.”

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In an email, Interior Health confirmed COVID patients are taking up more space at KGH.

“Kelowna General Hospital is currently supporting a higher number of COVID-19 positive patients due to the central Okanagan outbreak,” the email said. “Some elective surgeries have been rescheduled to manage capacity at the hospital. Affected patients are being notified directly to reschedule their procedure.

“The majority of people in hospital with COVID-19 are young adults who are not fully immunized.”

According to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, one of the reasons for cancellations of surgeries at KGH is a number of health-care workers have been “affected” by COVID-19. Henry made the comments Tuesday during a briefing on the wildfires in B.C. but did not elaborate.

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“That has put additional challenges, particularly on Kelowna General Hospital. That has been part of the reason why some of the surgeries have been cancelled in that facility,” said Henry.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control on Tuesday, there were 27 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Interior Health region, 10 in intensive care.

In a bid to try and get more people vaccinated, mobile immunization clinics are being held in various venues in Kelowna and West Kelowna.

The province recently announced it had lowered the amount of time between getting the first and second dose of the vaccine to 28 days.


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