BC to Reactivate Its COVID Emergency Operations Centres to Prepare for More Illness

BC to Reactivate Its COVID Emergency Operations Centres to Prepare for More Illness
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix pauses while responding to questions during a news conference, in Vancouver, on Nov. 7, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)
The Canadian Press
The British Columbia government will reopen 20 hospital emergency operation centres set up for COVID-19 to deal with an expected surge in flu, respiratory illness and COVID cases.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Friday they’ve been coping with an unprecedented increase in demand in the health-care system.

He said reactivating the centres starting Monday will ensure people have continued access to hospital care and will allow for a co-ordinated response during periods of additional pressures on hospitals.
There were 10,226 patients in B.C.’s hospitals on Friday, a six percent jump from 9,637 on New Year’s Eve.

Dix said the centres will help ensure there is space for those needing it in the coming weeks.

“It’s not a question of it going higher,” Dix said, referring to the number of people in hospital. “We need to manage the situation that we have and then create space, potentially, and ensure that we have space for people who need care.”
B.C. traditionally experiences an increase in hospitalizations in January as illnesses spread during the holiday period and surgeries resume in the new year.
Dix said the centres will be in place for at least six weeks and leadership teams will review hospital bed availability and identify solutions to ease emergency department congestion.
Emergency operation centres were part of the provincial response tothe pandemic, as well as during wildfire and extreme weather events, including the recent extreme cold weather and snowstorms.
Staff at the centres will help patients who are ready to be discharged in an attempt to reduce overall hospital occupancy and ensure emergency departments have patient care beds available.

Dix said the three years of the pandemic have put health-care workers through the grinder.

“It has been unrelenting,” he said.

“People have been working like this for years and they need our support and they'll get it, but it’s very, very challenging for them.”

Hospitals where emergency operation centres will be established are Abbotsford Regional, Royal Columbian, Surrey Memorial, East Kootenay Regional, Kelowna General, Kootenay Boundary Regional, Penticton Regional, Royal Inland, Vernon Jubilee, Fort St. John & Peace Villa, Mills Memorial, University Hospital of Northern BC, BC Children’s, Lions Gate, Richmond, St. Paul’s, Vancouver General, Nanaimo Regional General, Royal Jubilee and Victoria General.