Pandemic planning

September 11, 2020

How North York General is preparing for a second wave

Unprecedented, uncharted, uncertain; these words have often been used to describe how COVID-19 has impacted Canadians, especially in health care settings. While North York General Hospital (NYGH) has adjusted to its new way of providing care during the pandemic, the one constant ensuring staff, physicians, patients, residents and families follow rigorous procedures to help keep everyone safe.

“Proper hand hygiene, social distancing and safely putting on and removing personal protective equipment (PPE) are all part of our new normal but it’s important we don’t let our guard down or become complacent. That is an important part of the formula for keeping everyone as safe as possible,” says Sean Molloy, Director of Quality, Patient Experience, and Patient Flow at North York General.

On August 21, the hospital marked six months since diagnosing its first COVID-19 positive patient, and over the last six months, nearly 200 patients have been admitted and treated for COVID-19 at North York General. During this time, our experts have been carefully planning for ongoing care, expected challenges and higher admissions as health officials anticipate a potential second wave of the virus.

“There has been a heavy focus on the logistics and supply chain around PPE, and a lot of work around our practices across our organization,” says Dr. Kevin Katz, North York General’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control.

Dr. Katz says our plan also includes ensuring those in long-term care settings, like our Seniors’ Health Centre, are prepared for new cases,through utilizing our education and awareness resources for staff and the community, and increasing capacity for lab testing.

“We’ve gone from roughly 100 available tests in the province to about 40,000 tests per day. By the fall, the plan is to double that capacity,” adds Dr. Katz.

North York General’s two assessment centres and mobile testing unit have also collectively completed more than 65,000 tests, offering barrier-free access for people, including those who might not otherwise be able to access a COVID test.

“Our teams found innovative ways to bring testing to those who couldn’t come to us, including long-term care residents and those living in congregate settings like shelters or group homes,” says Sean. “There are a number of changes that we have implemented as an organization to create a cohesive strategy for managing and treating COVID and it includes every area, unit, and program across our sites.”

Small changes: Big impact
Safety enhancements have been implemented to protect everyone who comes through our doors, including measures like social distancing between seating and inside elevators, single entry and exit points, mandatory masking, and COVID tests for those with planned surgeries.

“This pandemic has been such a learning curve for us but, as we reflect on the last six months, we have so many key learnings that will help us continue to plan for new cases and build our service recovery,” adds Sean. “It’s really proven to be invaluable for us as we continue to change the way care is delivered during this pandemic and beyond.”