As hospitalizations climb across the province, officials with Interior Health say regional health care systems and intensive care units are not being overwhelmed by rising COVID-19 case counts.
In the Kootenays, case counts have spiked in communities such as Cranbrook, Kimberley and Windermere, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. Based on weekly data released by the agency, between April 4-10, Cranbrook had 23 cases, Kimberley had 13, Creston had 12, and Windermere doubled its previous epidemiological week case count with 34 cases.
“We are paying close attention to the impact that the community COVID cases are having on the health system and we are working every day to make sure the necessary steps are being taken to have sustainable health services for the communities that need to access them,” said Karen Bloemink, interim VP, Pandemic Response and Surgical Strategy with Interior Health.
There are currently 22 hospitalizations and nine in critical care in Interior Health, however, demand on intensive care unit capacity is holding steady, according to Bloemink.
“We are monitoring our hospitalization and our critical care capacity on a daily basis and more frequently as needed,” said Bloemink. “As we’ve talked about before, our hospitals work together as a network of hospitals in this health authority and our network of critical care units work together in the same way.
“As of today, our capacity is handling the demand. So our services are available, we have staff that are on the ground in those units and we’re managing the demand that we do have our plate.”
As case counts rise, the Interior Health contact tracing system is under some strain, according to Dr. Albert de Villiers, the Chief Medical Officer for Interior Health.
The system is mainly run out of a virtual hub in Vernon, however some contact tracers do track cases in the communities they reside, he added.
“There is a strain on the system currently because we do see more cases than we did a month or so ago, but they are able to keep up,” said Dr. de Villiers. “Especially with the school cases, they are keeping up, because we do prioritize those, we prioritize cases in the school, cases in the hospital, or cases in long-term care and we definitely put our resources into that and make sure that the contact tracing happens as soon as possible.”
Indigenous communities have their own separate contact tracing system that include local health officials.
Vaccine distribution continues across the health authority, as 180,994 total doses have been administered, 13,097 of which are second doses.
Dr. de Villiers says a national advisory committee, which includes representatives from British Columbia, is set to release updated guidance for AstraZeneca, one of four vaccines approved by the federal government.
However, the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout, originally earmarked for outbreaks, clusters and frontline workers, was halted as the committee studied reported concerns over side effects such as blood clots.
“Hopefully by next week at least, we will have an answer on that,” said de Villiers.
In the meantime, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are being delivered to immunization clinics across the Interior Health region as part of the provincial age-based rollout plan.
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