VICTORIA, B.C. – The Province has announced new measures to help maintain regular healthcare services in B.C., even if there is a surge in COVID-19 cases.
It is expected there will be more cases of COVID-19 as the traditional fall influenza season gets underway. The Province will spend another $800 million on the healthcare system on top of the $850 already announced earlier this year to help deal with any potential surge in cases.
Premier Horgan says the government has been working to prepare for a possible second wave of COVID-19. “Our pandemic plan has been working, and we need to accelerate and up our game.”
The Province believes the B.C. healthcare system has the adequate physical capacity to meet the demand of COVID-19 and the normal demand seen in the fall and winter season.
Since some of the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the common flu, the Province will continue to build out testing capacity. They hope to reach 20,000 testes per day. Right now 5,000 to 6,000 tests are completed per day.
Dr. Henry says there is a global shortage of supplies, but the Province has been preparing for this since the Spring. “We have systems in place, we are working with our colleagues across the country to make sure we have in Canada what we need to do this, and we are well on our way to get there.”
In the Spring, the Province increased hospital bed capacity by cancelling non-essential surgeries across the Province. In the plan announced Wednesday, there won’t be a system-wide reduction like in the Spring, but rather hospital capacity will be monitored on a local and regional basis.
If there is a surge in COVID-19 cases in one region, only that region will see a reduction in healthcare services to meet the increased demand caused by the virus.
Like in the Spring, 19 hospitals in B.C. will be COVID-19 sites, including the Fort St. John Hospital. Those sites will be the first “line of defense” and will support other healthcare facilities. All hospitals can be called upon if bed capacity in COVID-19 hospitals is not sufficient.
The Province will also be rolling out a plan to reduce normal fall and winter demand on the healthcare system. The plan includes an increased immunization action plan for the flu with the Province purchasing 1,965,000 doses of vaccine. The plan also includes more support for vulnerable seniors in Long Term Care and those at greater risk. There will also be new bed management strategies for hospitals.
For Long Term Care, assisted living facilities will be Province with the funding to hire 2,000 additional staff across B.C. The funding also includes funding to increase recruitment and training for additional aides, cleaning and food service staff of up to 5,000 new staff.
A new program has also been rolled out called Hospital at Home. The program will undergo a test run in Victoria and will then be expanded across B.C. This will allow select patients to remain at home and continue to receive treatment from medial professionals.