Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)

Doctors weigh-in on second wave at Kelowna General Hospital

A group of physicians write an open letter to residents

Open letter to Central Okanagan residents:

We are a group of physician leaders who work at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH).

All of us work in hot spots in the hospital affected by the increase in COVID-19 cases in Interior Health this November and December.

As we enter 2021, we want to: (1) recap our community’s experience with the COVID-19 pandemic so far; (2) make a plea for the renewed vigilance and strict adherence to public health measures that will be needed during the winter of 2021.

First of all, we wish to acknowledge how great a place Kelowna is to live, work and play. On top of that, KGH is an excellent hospital in which to work.

The nurses, physicians and all health care staff and support workers at KGH and across our region have worked tirelessly, professionally and in good spirits throughout the pandemic.

Our hospital’s leaders have been calm and steadfast, and worked to ensure we have the appropriate personal protective equipment and other supports necessary to do our jobs effectively and safely.

During the summer and fall of 2020 we were fortunate that our community was not hard hit, with the exception of July, when we saw a cluster develop in Kelowna.

Fortunately, there were few hospitalizations even then. In the early fall, as COVID-19 case counts climbed dramatically in the United States and grew in other parts of Canada and B.C – it often seemed that COVID-19 had spared us.

At that time, the number of patients with COVID-19 at KGH was typically between zero and one. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.

It is important for residents to realize that we have entered a new phase of the fight against COVID-19. Every week, the BCCDC releases our COVID-19 numbers for the Kelowna and Central Okanagan area.

Per capita, our region has ranked among the highest number of new cases for the past several weeks. This data is available publicly and helps paint a picture of the situation in our community.

Ongoing and increasing rates of COVID-19 in the community leads to more COVID-19 hospitalizations, and an associated number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients who require life support and ICU care.

At KGH we are seeing clear effects of the second wave of COVID-19. In the emergency department, we are seeing significant numbers of patients with COVID-19.

More people who have COVID-19 are requiring inpatient care. Our ICU space has been re-organized to accommodate those who are impacted most severely.

In all areas, staff use the appropriate precautions and PPE.

Despite these new pressures, all patients continue to receive high quality and appropriate care. KGH remains a safe place.

If you have a medical emergency, please come to your hospital and seek medical attention.

In order to protect our hospital resource, healthcare workers and vulnerable members in our community, we are calling on all residents to respect and follow public health guidelines.

These include:

• not gathering with people outside of your own household

• wearing a mask and practising physical distancing in public

• staying home when you are sick

• receiving a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you this year

Like you, we are fatigued and weary with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our wish for 2021 is that everyone does their part during the difficult winter months to come.

Join us and help protect yourselves, your family, our hospital and our community.

We wish you and your family a happy and safe 2021.

Dr. Tony Kwan

Medical Director – Emergency Medicine, KGH

Dr. Scott Smith

Hospitalist Department Head, KGH

Dr. Vikas Chaubey

Medical Director – Critical Care Services, KGH

City of Kelowna