Revelstoke physician on Omicron wave’s effect at local hospital

We checked in with Queen Victoria Hospital physician Dr. Vikki Haines about what staff are experiencing at Revelstoke's local hospital during the Omicron wave.

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FILE PHOTO: An ambulance at Queen Victoria Hospital on Jan. 7, 2021. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

In our latest Revelstoke Mountaineer podcast, we spoke with Queen Victoria Hospital physician, Dr. Vikki Haines, talks about what’s she’s seeing in the Revelstoke hospital’s emergency facility during the Omicron wave.

Revelstoke is experiencing all-time record per capita COVID-19 case rates for all of B.C. since the pandemic started.

Listen here: Click the ‘play’ icon to listen

In the podcast, Dr. Haines said that more people coming with symptoms and confirmed diagnoses since the pandemic started.

“It’s impressive, the jump in people with COVID coming to QVH compared to this time last year,” she said.

She said the numbers range from about two to ten people with respiratory symptoms coming in for assessment during a typical day shift.

Haines said that health care staff members doing various roles at the hospital have been unable to work because they have symptoms, reducing some staff availability.

“There is certainly actual fatigue working more shifts than normal,” Dr. Haines said. “It’s hard to see people suffering, and it’s also hard to see some of the overload on the system from presentations in folks that remain unvaccinated so far. That does have sort of a demoralizing and discouraging effect on all of us.”

Dr. Haines said the high vaccination rate in Revelstoke, including 97% first dose coverage and 93% second dose, is a benefit.

“I truly could not be prouder of Revelstoke,” she said.

New focus: If you get COVID, focus on not infecting others, including health care staff

Dr. Haines said one key message during a time when Omicron infections are widespread in Revelstoke, those who may be sick need to take steps to avoid infecting others.

She says there is a tendency to minimize their symptoms, perhaps not disclosing everything they could to medical staff.

“You gotta think about the impact of passing that on,” she said, noting its impact on people who are more susceptible to serious illness, and the importance of not infecting health care workers.

What can Revelstoke residents do to help now?

From her perspective, Dr. Haines said the most important step is getting vaccinated and getting your kids vaccinated, noting vaccines are available to kids aged 5 and up.

She also emphasized that pregnant persons should get vaccinated. “We really want to encourage our pregnant patients to get [vaccinated].”

“The data is showing us more and more kids getting sick with Omicron now, and more kids are getting admitted to hospitals in the big cities and so we need to protect our kids, and that includes babies in pregnancies,” Dr. Haines said.

A third point was to focus on protecting health care staff from infection.

Dr. Haines emphasized that anyone who feels they may need medical attention to absolutely seek medical attention. However, she said people should also use the telephone to communicate with medical staff so they can appropriately direct people to the right place.

One of the issues is people with mild symptoms are showing up at the hospital, increasing their chance of spreading infection, or also getting infected if their symptoms are another illness. It can also increase wait times for others. By calling ahead, staff could direct the patient to a clinic or physician appointment, for example.