Kingston’s top doctor urges people stay home if you’re sick this Thanksgiving weekend

Check for symptoms and stay at home if you’re sick; that’s the word from one eastern Ontario medical officer of health ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend.

Dr. Piotr Olgaza, the medical officer of health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health, says there’s an unusually high number of cold and flu patients for this time of year. He says there’s also a high prevalence of COVID-19 in Kingston and across the province. 

Oglaza says people should take precautions this Thanksgiving weekend, before getting together with family and friends to help prevent further spread.

“These measures include, most importantly, checking for symptoms, and staying home when sick until 24 hours after symptoms are resolved,” he explains. 

He also says people should continue to mask for 10 days after the start of the illness, and be sure to be fully up to date on vaccinations.

Hospitals are feeling the pressure. Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital, just like CHEO, warned of unusually long wait times earlier this week.

On Friday, a rural hospital in Chesley, Ont., north of London, Ont., announced it was closing its doors until December to cope with staffing shortages.

At Kingston General Hospital, Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, the chief of staff with Kingston Health Sciences Centre, says the Thanksgiving long weekend is traditionally a busy one with four to five-hour wait times.

However, Dr. Fitzpatrick warns wait times could be longer over the holiday weekend, and people need to take stock of what they want to visit the ER for.

“For those who have more minor ailments please don’t come to the emergency room,” Fitzpatrick says in an interview with CTV News Ottawa. “Our staffing levels are not at their other usual baseline levels, and there will be long waits this weekend.”

He says those with severe illness – including severe chest pains, bleeding or signs of stroke – should come to the ER. But encourages patients with minor ailments to try a virtual clinic, or wait to see your family doctor if possible. 

“More seriously ill patients will always take precedence, and patients with more minor conditions will be waiting for a long time for that reason,” he explains.

The Verona Medical Clinic, located in Verona, Ont., a half an hour north of Kingston, has decided to open its doors on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., as an open walk-in, drive-in clinic for patients in this part of eastern Ontario.

Dr. Sabra Gibbons says it’s to help take pressure off the emergency rooms. She says she will be treating patients’ minor illness – including minor wounds, sore throat, and even mild COVID symptoms.

“From the patient perspective, just hoping to help those people out so they don’t have to wait so long to have their concerns addressed,” she explains. “Our health care system is strained, and this is one small way I can help alleviate that strain.”

View original article here Source