Joint Op-Ed: London’s hospitals remain open for essential health services

By: Dr. Gillian Kernaghan, President & CEO of St. Joseph’s Health Care London and Neil Johnson, Interim President & CEO of London Health Sciences Centre

As we respond to our community’s needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain focused on providing high-quality care for those who need us.

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Joseph’s Health Care London (St. Joseph’s) remain open and safe, providing urgent and emergency care for our patients and for the residents whose home is within our walls. Physical distancing does not mean avoiding the hospital if you have a serious health concern. If you or your loved one is experiencing an emergency or serious medical injury call 911 immediately or go to an Emergency Department. Please know that patients with a suspected case of COVID-19 are separated from other patients, and a number of protocols are followed to protect the health and safety of our staff, physicians and patients. 

For many weeks now, hospitals across the province have significantly reduced their elective services at the direction of the Ontario government. This is to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus and preserve clinical capacity to care for patients who need urgent and emergent care. We recognize that these changes cause anxiety and uncertainty for our patients, residents and caregivers, but please be assured that we are still here when you need us. For those patients undergoing care and treatments, your health-care team has reviewed your treatment plan and will continue to monitor your care closely. 

If you are experiencing new or worsening symptoms, please contact your physician or a member of your care team. The health and safety of everyone we care for, as well as our staff and physicians, remains our top priority. 

We are deeply grateful for the efforts of our community to stay home, practice physical distancing and help prevent the spread of the virus. According to provincial projections, Ontario’s curve is flattening. This means that more people are safe and hospital capacity has been maintained to care for people in urgent need. We need to stay the course so that we can continue supporting areas of high risk including long-term care homes, retirement homes, group shelters and other congregate living locations. 

The outpouring of support from our community has been extraordinary. There have been convoys in front of our buildings and blue hearts displayed in windows. Greetings and messages in the form of videos, signs and chalk on sidewalks. Donations have flowed through our foundations in many forms including personal protective equipment, support for front-line workers and funds for crucial health research that will help us better understand and respond to COVID-19.

We are profoundly thankful to our community, patients, staff and physicians. We will get through this unprecedented global health emergency together.

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