Horizon Health Network reflects on lessons learned during first wave
FREDERICTON -- New Brunswick's largest health network says it's slowly getting back to normal after the pandemic, but the last three months have been stressful for staff.
With no COVID-19 cases in any of its hospitals right now, Horizon Health Network is reflecting on the lessons it has learned -- and is planning for the future.
"I won't say it was less stressful, but at least we could see the enemy and start to work toward it," said Dr. John Dornan, Horizon Health Network's chief of staff and endocrinologist. "I think it was remarkably stressful for people who, you know, were in fear."
During Thursday's virtual board meeting, leaders at the health network presented what they learned during the pandemic.
Dr. Dornan said staff didn't always know how -- or when -- to use personal protective equipment.
But those lessons have been learned and will be put in place in time for the next wave, which he feels certain will happen.
"Even when we didn't have a single patient, it was stressful," Dr. Dornan said. "People, mothers, wives, would work in our emergency departments and wonder, 'who's going to walk in this door and give me an infection I'm going to take home to my kids or my mothers.'"
New Brunswick's first case of COVID came one month after the announcement that six hospital emergency rooms were going to close overnight.
That plan was cancelled by the province shortly after, but Horizon's CEO Karen McGrath said Thursday she still feels it was the right thing to do.
"I believe we have to look at services that are under-utilized and it still remains the case that there are services, including ERs within Horizon, that are under-utilized."
Before the pandemic hit, hospitals were operating at 110 per cent capacity.
But, in fear of an influx of COVID patients,
111 alternate-level of care patients were moved to long-term care homes.
McGrath says capacity had dropped to the lowest they had seen in "many years."
Now, hospitals are operating at about 90 per cent.
Many of its testing centres will remain open for now and Horizon says it has the Moncton Coliseum booked until at least September.