Windsor and Toronto hospitals open COVID-19 clinics for children as number of cases rises
Two Ontario hospitals are opening COVID-19 clinics specifically for children this week in an effort to deal with the rise in infections that are expected to increase further as students return to school.
The Windsor Regional Hospital opened its COVID-19 pediatric clinic on Tuesday, while the Michael Garron Hospital in East Toronto plans to reopen its pediatric assessment center on Wednesday.
In Windsor, the hospital’s chief operating officer and nursing directorate said the facility has seen demand for pediatric tests double in recent weeks.
“With the schools opening, we wanted to make sure that we had sufficient capacity to handle the increased demand, as we expect there will be laid-off cohorts and there will be an increased need for testing.” Karen Riddell said in an interview. .
The hospital’s pediatric emergency medical assessment clinic, which opened next to its emergency department, offers COVID-19 testing, emergency care medical assessment and vaccinations for the elderly 17 and under.
Riddell said the clinic is needed as the more transmissible Delta variant is spreading in the community, COVID-19 restrictions have eased, children born in 2010 or later are not yet eligible for vaccination, and sports for young people have resumed.
“We expect the worst, we hope for the best,” said Riddell. “But the risk of exposure is certainly higher than it was the previous school year.”
The clinic will be staffed with nurses and doctors and will help divert young patients from the emergency department, Riddell said.
Rapid testing will be important in identifying and stopping the spread of COVID-19 in children, she said.
“We always want to make sure we have that capacity for the same day, the next day,” she said. “And to do that, we needed another assessment center. “
There was a huge demand for COVID-19 testing when schools resumed last September, driven largely by strict provincial protocols that required children to be assessed if they had certain symptoms.
Families in some areas lined up all day to get tested before the province implemented a date-only system. The testing rush also overwhelmed labs, which took days to return results in many cases.
In east Toronto, the Michael Garron Hospital will reopen its COVID-19 pediatric clinic on Wednesday in preparation for the return to school and the increased demand for testing that is expected to result.
He launched the clinic at the end of September last year and hopes to see the same level of success this year, said Dr Michael Charnish, emergency physician and co-head of the COVID-19 assessment area at the pediatric hospital. .
“We realized last year that the pediatric population in our area needed their own assessment area, a family-friendly place where they can enter and is less stressful,” Charnish said, noting that the clinic has its own entrance.
In addition to assessing children, the clinic can also test up to four family members at the same time, he said.
“These are real assessments, we check the oxygen levels, talk to patients and do the swabs,” Charnish said. “But you’ll also be picking up things that might not have been picked up before when you’re only looking for COVID. We have been able to detect and treat ear infections and strep throat.
The clinic will also offer oral-nasal swabs, which are much less intrusive than nasopharyngeal swabs, he said.
The hospital said it was able to cut wait times in its emergency department last year with the addition of the children’s clinic.
The program has been so successful that the facility hopes to make it a permanent pediatric emergency department, Charnish said. Last weekend, he said, local families with their children came to think about how to create a child-friendly emergency service.
“This seed of an idea – essentially just a COVID assessment area – is now blossoming into the concept of an entire area that is family-friendly and totally dedicated to excellent, evidence-based pediatric care,” Charnish said.
There are no walk-in appointments yet at clinics in Windsor and Toronto, but both said same-day and next-day slots can be booked online or over the phone.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 31, 2021.