Osler closes Peel Memorial urgent care to focus COVID-19 efforts at Civic; number of new cases appears to slow; schools will not open before June
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Osler closes Peel Memorial urgent care to focus COVID-19 efforts at Civic; number of new cases appears to slow; schools will not open before June

As of Friday, Brampton residents looking for help with any medical distress, including those who may be infected with COVID-19, will only have one place to go as the urgent care clinic at Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Wellness closed its doors April 24. 

In a statement released on William Osler’s website — the organization that operates Peel Memorial, Brampton Civic Hospital and Etobicoke General Hospital in Toronto — stated that due to low patient volumes at Peel Memorial’s urgent care centre (UCC), the healthcare network has decided to close the clinic to focus efforts at Civic. 

“With an extremely low number of patients visiting the UCC in recent weeks, we saw this as a priority opportunity to reassign our highly-skilled doctors and nurses to other areas of the hospital where they are most needed at this time – like our emergency departments and critical care areas,” stated Dr. Naveed Mohammad, the newly minted president and CEO of the Osler Health System, in a press release. “Patients who require urgent care services can be seen in Osler’s Emergency Departments at Brampton Civic Hospital and Etobicoke General Hospital, which are also seeing lower-than-normal volumes during the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Dr. Naveed Mohammad, president and CEO of the William Osler Health System speaks with Osler staff. 


The lack of patients is a surprising first for Brampton hospitals, which before the pandemic were being crushed under patient volumes which made the city the poster-child for hallway healthcare. However, the city is not the only one to see a decline in patient visits, with many avoiding the healthcare facilities due to COVID-19 fears. In British Columbia, emergency department visits have been practically cut in half from approximately 6,500 near the beginning of March to approximately 3,600 in mid-April. 

The shift in tactic comes as the fight against COVID-19 in Peel — and Ontario — is at a tipping point. In the broader community, provincial projections show the overall number of cases appears to have reached a plateau. On Sunday, Ontario saw 437 new infections confirmed, bringing the total to 14,432 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 835 deaths. This marked a 3.7 percent increase from Saturday, which is a decrease from recent days which, on average, had seen new cases increase by between 5 and 7 percent each day.

But to ensure the spread is held in check, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced Sunday that public schools will stay closed until at least May 31. 

In the Region of Peel, there are currently 2,175 confirmed and probable cases and 74 deaths (30 of which are linked to long-term care facilities). The last several days have seen a similar slowing in the number of new cases as that observed across Ontario with Peel infections increasing by less than 3 percent a day over the last three days. It’s a promising sign that the region is flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID-19. 


Yet, over the course of the pandemic it’s become clear that the virus is unpredictable, and surges in new infections are not uncommon. 

It can typically take about 10 to 20 days from the onset of symptoms, when many get tested, till hospitalization for those whose condition gets to the point where they need to be admitted. 

The time between a positive test and hospitalization depends on a number of factors, primarily age, but also respiratory health, the condition of one’s immune system and complicating diseases such as diabetes and vascular problems. While the number of new infections continues to slow, it still creates a crop of potential new patients for hospitals to treat down the line.

 Osler states that it is prepared for any surge should it occur.

“Osler continues to monitor demand for its emergency services and any surge in inpatient and emergency department patient volumes at Brampton Civic and Etobicoke General would trigger a re-opening of the UCC,” the statement reads. 

“This pandemic has challenged us in ways none of us could ever have imagined,” Dr. Mohammad states. “At Osler, we must do our part to ensure the community continues to have access to safe, high-priority services – while also ensuring we have the capacity to care for patients experiencing complications from COVID-19. As health providers working diligently to keep this community safe and healthy, we appreciate all of the efforts helping to minimize the spread of the virus, as well as the outpouring of support we continue to receive.”

During the closure of the UCC, Peel Memorial will continue to offer some of its specialized, outpatient programs, like dialysis, and the COVID-19 assessment centre at Peel Memorial will remain open. The assessment centre, along with Osler’s drive-through centre in Etobicoke, has confirmed 1,506 positive cases of COVID-19. Currently, the healthcare network is treating 87 patients for COVID-19 in its facilities, 19 of whom are in critical care. 

In Mississauga, the Trillium Health Network made a similar decision several weeks ago, when it decided to close its urgent care centre at its Queensway Health Centre in west Toronto on March 31 to redeploy staff as part of its pandemic response plan.



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Twitter: @JoeljWittnebel

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