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Number of children admitted to Guelph hospital with respiratory problems 7 times higher than in 2021

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The number of children with respiratory issues having to go to Guelph General Hospital is several times higher than it was a year ago.

Growing rates of a trio of respiratory diseases has caused the number of children hospitalized in Guelph to drastically multiply.

According to a report headed to the Nov. 22 meeting of Guelph General Hospital’s board of directors, the number of children admitted to hospital for respiratory reasons grew 600 per cent between April and September 2022, compared to the same time last year.

The number of emergency room visits for children with respiratory problems also more than doubled over the same period.

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“During the past month we are seeing more patients with a respiratory illness such as COVID, influenza and children with RSV. RSV may present as a common cold for adults; however, for some children it can present with a severe respiratory illness,” the report states.

“Hospital occupancy remains over 100 per cent with several patients in emergency department requiring admission.”

Dr. Nicola Mercer, medical officer of health and CEO of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, told the Mercury Tribune earlier this month residents should be returning to masking indoors so as to help prevent the spread of those respiratory diseases, thus helping alleviate the pressures being faced by Guelph General Hospital and others across Ontario.

“Ontario is seeing a surge of respiratory diseases — COVID, flu and RSV. Don’t wait for a mask order to wear a mask. Now is the time to protect yourself and others. I’m encouraging everyone to wear a mask when they are in indoor settings and among larger groups,” Mercer said.

 

“Wearing a mask now will decrease your chances of becoming sick and protect our most vulnerable — including our children and seniors.”

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Acting MOH urging residents to get flu shot – Simcoe Reformer

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Haldimand-Norfolk’s acting medical officer of health is urging residents to get their flu shot as soon as possible.

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“The hospital system in Ontario is currently overwhelmed with individuals seeking care for influenza and other respiratory viruses,” Dr. Matthew Strauss said Thursday. “There is strong evidence that influenza vaccination can prevent trips to the ER (emergency room) for flu.

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“I strongly recommend that you get your flu shot ASAP on this basis, particularly if you are in a high risk group.”

Flu shots are available through local pharmacies and health care providers. Children six months to two years can only get their flu shot from a doctor or nurse practitioner.

Those in the high-risk group for complications and hospitalization because of the flu include: babies and children under five; people 65 and older; people who are pregnant; people with underlying health conditions and residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities.

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The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit on Thursday said it has received a significant number of positive lab results related to influenza in recent weeks.

The health unit has received notification of 141 lab-confirmed flu cases in Haldimand or Norfolk residents between Oct. 11 and Nov. 29. During the same period of the 2019-2020 flu season there was just one confirmed case in Haldimand or Norfolk.

The flu is a virus that affects the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. Although some who get the flu will not have any symptoms or suffer mild illness, others, especially the elderly or young children, can become seriously ill from the flu.

The virus spreads by droplets from coughs or sneezes from someone who is sick with the flu. As well, it can spread if someone touches surfaces where these droplet have landed and then they touch their mouth, nose or eyes.

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Steps to protect yourself from the flu include getting vaccinated each year. Other measures including staying home and way from others if you feel sick, improving ventilation in indoor and shared spaces and frequent hand-washing with soap, water or hand sanitizer.

Washing your hands before touching your eyes, nose or mouth is also beneficial.

The health unit also recommends cleaning and disinfecting frequently touches surfaces and objects.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.

Meanwhile, anyone with symptoms of a respiratory illness should stay home until the fever subsides and symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours and 48 hours if you have had nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Those with symptoms should not be visiting people in hospitals, retirement, long-term care homes or any facilities that includes people at higher risk of illness. Those experiencing severe or worsening symptom or in a high-risk group should seek medical attention.

For more information about the influenza virus and the flu shot, visit www.hnhu.org/ .

Vball@postmedia.com

twitter.com/EXPVBall

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Stratford area health officials expand assessment clinics, vaccinations as heavy flu season continues

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Health-care officials in Perth and Huron counties are expanding the scope of the region’s COVID-19 assessment centres as they attempt to cut down on unnecessary visits to the Stratford area’s busy emergency rooms.

Originally established as an option for symptomatic test-seekers interested in seeing a doctor earlier in the pandemic, the region’s three assessment centres in Stratford, Goderich and Grand Bend are now being rebranded as COVID, cold and flu care clinics.

Selena Hazlitt, the director of the Huron Perth and Area Ontario Health Team, said Thursday that the move – happening at the request of Ontario Health, the crown agency overseeing much of the province’s health-care system – means increasing capacity at the clinics in order to ease the burden mild and moderate cold and flu cases are having on local hospitals.

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“We want to provide options, especially for non-rostered patients, someone who doesn’t have a family physician,” Hazlitt said, “and also remind people who do have a family physician that their first point of contact for mild and moderate symptoms is their family doctor.

“Otherwise, we absolutely encourage them to go to the emergency department or call 911.”

Health-care officials began making doctors available at the region’s COVID-19 centres in the fall of 2021, but this year’s cold and flu season has hit particularly hard. Unlike last year, the early arrival of the flu and a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) to which kids are especially vulnerable is currently squeezing the province’s hospitals and pediatric centres.

The Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, a group of administrators that oversee hospitals in Stratford, St. Marys, Clinton and Seaforth, offered a social media update this week on the impacts this cold and flu season is having locally.

According to a thread on Twitter, 27 patients have been admitted with influenza, including 13 who were six years of age or younger, since the beginning of November. Another 22 patients were admitted with RSV, including 16 within that age range. At the same time, 21 patients tested positive for COVID-19, including one younger than six.

“Our emergency departments are busy,” the post said before encouraging people to get vaccinated, wear masks in indoor public spaces, and stay home when they get sick. “We are seeing a lot of sick children.”

Meanwhile, Huron Perth public health announced this week it is extending the availability of flu shots at local COVID-19 vaccine clinics until the end of December.

The health unit began offering flu shots at those clinics in mid-November and “has seen good uptake,” according to a press release. Anyone aged five and older who is receiving a COVID-19 vaccination can also receive a flu shot if they wish, but the health unit not offering flu shots on their own at those clinics.

“I strongly recommend that everyone six months and older get a flu shot, especially as we head into the busy holiday season,” said Dr. Miriam Klassen, the region’s medical officer of health. “Influenza is a serious illness that can lead to severe outcomes to the very young, the very old and those who are immunocompromised. The flu shot is your best defence against the flu.”

A list of area COVID-19 vaccination clinics for the month of December is available online at hpph.ca/getvaccinated.

Besides making changes to the region’s assessment centres, the Huron Perth and Area Ontario Health Team has also launched a new webpage aimed at helping patients, families and caregivers navigate colds, RSV, flu and COVID-19.

Learn more at hpaoht.ca/pfc-resources.

“Viruses and other illnesses are running rampant this winter and our health-care system is seeing a large influx of emergency department visits that may be unnecessary,” said Dr. Kim Gilmour, the local Ontario Health Team’s primary care clinical lead. “Most respiratory illness including colds, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and COVID-19 can be managed at home without the need for prescription medications.

“Together we can slow the spread of respiratory illnesses in Huron Perth and area, while removing pressure from the health-care system.”

cmontanini@postmedia.com


Actions you can take before heading to an emergency department with cold and flu symptoms:

  • Call your family doctor to discuss symptoms to determine if you need to visit your doctor or the emergency department.
  • Access virtual urgent care – appointment costs are fully covered with an Ontario health card.
    • For adults and children: Book an appointment via urgentcareontario.ca
    • For children: Book an appointment with London Health Science Centre’s     Children’s Emergency Department at lhsc.on.ca/emergency-department or call 519-685-8735 between 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Use Health Connect Ontario
  • Book an appointment at a COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinic.
    • COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinics (CCFCCs) are for patients with moderate or worsening respiratory symptoms, or patients directed by their health-care provider to visit for care.
    • These clinics offer access to assessment, testing and treatment without going to a hospital. If you can’t be seen by a family doctor, these clinics are a great option.

Goderich: 519-612-2320

               Grand Bend: 519-238-2362 x1 or visit gbachc.ca

               Stratford: 519-272-8210 x 2747

SOURCE: Huron Perth and Area Ontario Health Team

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Haldimand-Norfolk health unit urges flu shot amid surge

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The health unit in Haldimand-Norfolk has data to back up what can be seen in countless empty school desks and unfilled work shifts — the flu is hitting hard this winter.

In a media release issued Thursday, the health unit reported a “significant” number of positive test results for influenza when compared to past years.

To this point in the 2019-20 flu season, there had only been one lab-confirmed case of flu in the two counties.

This year there have already been 141 confirmed cases reported between Oct. 11 and Nov. 29.

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The number of residents who have had the flu is likely higher still, since most people with flu-like symptoms are not tested.

 

“The hospital system in Ontario is currently overwhelmed with individuals seeking care for influenza and other respiratory viruses,” said acting medical officer of health Dr. Matt Strauss in a media release.

He urged residents to get a flu shot from their family doctor or a local pharmacy as soon as possible.

“There is strong evidence that influenza vaccination can prevent trips to the ER for flu,” Strauss said.

“I strongly recommend that you get your flu shot ASAP on this basis, particularly if you are in a high-risk group.”

The elderly and children under five are considered at heightened risk for serious flu symptoms, as well as residents who are pregnant, have underlying health conditions or live in long-term care facilities.

To further lower the risk of infection, the health unit recommends staying home and away from others when sick, keeping indoor spaces well-ventilated and washing your hands often.

 

In a letter to parents last month, the health unit recommended masking for students and educational staff in response to a “sharp increase in infections” from respiratory illnesses like influenza, RSV and COVID-19.

 

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