Local hospitals pause elective surgeries until at least Jan. 17

COVID-19 assessment centres to test only symptomatic high-risk individuals or those at risk of severe illness

WELLINGTON COUNTY – All hospitals in Wellington County will be pausing elective surgeries in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

The move, announced in a Dec. 31 press release from Groves Memorial Community Hospital and North Wellington Health Care (NWHC), is in response to a directive from Ontario Health.

The provincial agency has directed all hospitals, including Groves and NWHC hospitals in Palmerston and Mount Forest, to focus on urgent procedures such as emergency department services, essential clinics and emergency surgeries.

“These changes are necessary to support continuing essential and emergent care for our patients,” stated Angela Stanley, president and CEO of Groves and NWHC.

“The suspension of elective surgeries and procedures will continue to be reviewed frequently with provincial health leaders.”

Physicians’ offices will contact patients impacted by the pause in services and anyone with questions should contact their physician.

Officials say hospitals will be adjusting services until Jan. 17, and they will re-evaluate the situation by Jan. 12, “working with regional partners, Ontario Health and public health to change and evolve as the situation unfolds.”

PCR testing

Starting Dec. 31, PCR testing in Ontario will only be available for high-risk individuals who are symptomatic or who are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

People can visit www.ontario.ca/exposed to determine if they are eligible for a PCR test.

COVID-19 assessment centres in Fergus and Harriston “will honour any appointments currently booked up to and including [Jan. 5],” Stanley stated.

“Booked patients who are not eligible for a test beyond Jan. 5 will be notified by assessment centre staff or the patient can cancel their appointment themselves by clicking the ‘cancel/reschedule’ button in the confirmation email they received when they booked.”

For detailed information on COVID-19 testing eligibility visit www.whcacovid.com.

“We also ask that people do not come to the emergency department for a PCR test,” stated Stanley.

She explained symptomatic patients should come to the emergency department only if they require emergency care for COVID-19 symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain.

“If you do come to the emergency department for assessment and treatment of COVID-19 symptoms, you will not be tested unless the physician determines it is necessary,” Stanley added.