Kelowna General Hospital is still running at over capacity, due in large part to an outbreak of the flu and gastrointestinal illness.
As of Tuesday, the hospital was 124 per cent full. That is a figure officials say can fluctuate on a daily, and even an hourly basis.
“Several of the community’s residential care facilities are on outbreak, which means we are caring for some ill residents,” said Danielle Cameron, Health Service Director at KGH.
“An outbreak at a care facility can also mean admissions may be restricted, so we have been unable to discharge some healthy residents back to their care homes. Having said that, our staff and physicians are working extremely hard and are providing safe, quality care to all hospital patients, regardless of this increase in volume.”
Cameron said that the hospital is providing safe patient care and are open and ready to care for anyone who attends hospital.
The flu has been particularly aggressive this year.
From the first week of September to date, there have been 21 deaths from care homes, 10 of which were from the Okanagan.
There have also been 122 lab confirmed cases of influenza, said Pamela de Bruin, Manager, Communicable Diseases and Immunization Programs, and 70 per cent of those cases are a match for the flu vaccine administered earlier in the year.
DeBruin coudn’t say whether those who have been afflicted were vaccinated.
“When a care facility is licenced, providers offer the influenza vaccine,” she said. “Timing is a big factor. If they didn’t immunize early enough that can have an impact on protection.”
Other factors with the elderly are to do with overall health, as those with a compromised immune system may still suffer from the flu even with a vaccination — though, not as much.
That, said de Bruin, is something she’d like more people to be aware of.
“There are people who are vaccination hesitant. Last year or the year before, we didn’t have a good match and that decreases confidence in the public,” she said.
“We can’t always predict what will happen. The World Health Organization recommends what the strains (to vaccinate against) should be based on what’s circulating in the southern hemisphere and then the time it takes to manufacture the disease takes time.”
Interior Health said they’d encourage anyone who is unsure of whether they need to come to hospital to connect with their primary care provider or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to speak to a medical professional or if they require emergency care come to the emergency department.