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Emergency operation centres reopen at RIH and other hospitals

Centres are activated during health emergencies and will be in place for at least six weeks

Kamloops This Week

As of Jan. 9, emergency operation centres (EOCs) have been reactivated in 20 hospitals in B.C., including Royal Inland in Kamloops.

Emergency operations centres are activated during health emergencies and have been used during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The EOCs consist of experts who work together to coordinate responses. They were last opened during the Omicron variant outbreak a year ago this month. The province has also used the centres during wildfire and extreme weather events, including the recent extreme cold weather and snowstorms.

At a press conference on Jan. 6, Health Minister Adrian Dix said health officials at EOCs will review hospital bed availability and identify solutions to ease emergency department congestion.

“These actions increase patient flow so that the most vulnerable patients, including those who need critical care, get the care they need,” Dix said.

Dix said activating EOCs is intended to provide enhanced supports and a coordinated response during periods of expected additional pressure for hospitals. He said they ensure people have continued quality access to hospital care, noting people who require ongoing hospital care will continue to receive it.

The EOCs will be in place for a minimum of six weeks, and will also enable staff to support patients who are ready to be discharged from hospital, helping them to transition in a safe way. Resources will be available seven days a week.

Over the next two weeks, through the EOC structures, health authorities will reduce overall hospital occupancy and ensure emergency departments have available beds for acutely ill patients.

Dix said hospitals are dealing with an unprecedented increase in demand following the holiday period and urged British Columbians to support the health-care system by getting vaccinated against influenza and COVID-19 and staying home when they’re sick.

“We’re doing more surgeries, more diagnostic tests, more primary care visits than ever before,” Dix said. “But the impact of the pandemic, the overdose public health emergency, the impact of these things continues to be profound, not just directly in terms of COVID-19 cases, but in the impact they’ve had on the entire community.”

Dix said hospitals haven’t yet seen the bump in COVID-19 infections that have been recorded after previous holidays during the pandemic, but noted the health system is still feeling the strain of respiratory illnesses.

He added that the combination of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses in the height of winter will make for challenges in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, the BC Centre for Disease Control confirmed on Thursday that at least 12 cases of Kraken, a new subvariant of the Omicron strain of the virus that causes COVID-19, have been recorded in B.C. However, Dix said the actual number of cases circulating among the population would be higher.

The Kraken variant, officially known as XBB.1.5, is highly transmissible, though it is not yet known if the severity of illness associated with it is any greater than previous strains.

With files from the Vancouver Sun

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