ST. PAUL - The trickle down effects of an increased number of patients in hospital across the province due to COVID-19 is having an impact on hospital services in St. Paul, according to Mayor Maureen Miller.
During Thursday night's Town of St. Paul Committee of the Whole meeting, Miller spoke directly to the fact that all elective surgeries have now been cancelled at the St. Therese - St. Paul Healthcare Centre, as of Sept. 16.
Surgical staff have been deployed to other areas of the hospital, and while the St. Paul Healthcare Centre doesn't have the capabilities to care for COVID-19 patients, the site will be used to receive patients who may be transferred from facilities that need beds specifically for COVID-19 patients, she explained.
"It is directly affecting us on the ground," said Miller, as she asked the community to once again step up and do its part in helping control the spread of COVID-19.
She described the situation as "discouraging."
Town facilities likely affected
The news comes on the heels of a provincial announcement on Sept. 15 that brought back a number of public health measures as active cases of COVID-19 continue to surge. Town of St. Paul administration is still wading through the details and figuring out what it means for the community.
Both Miller and CAO Steven Jeffery acknowledged they did not have answers to all the questions that had been asked in the past 24 hours.
"We don't have answers for everyone immediately," said Miller. Jeffery agreed, but noted the renewed public health measures will likely affect facility usage in a few areas.
Jeffery stated that since the Town isn't going to ask for proof of vaccination or testing, facilities like the swimming pool will drop to one third capacity. There will likely be no adult fitness classes, such as aquafit, but youth sports are allowed to continue.
Anyone who has rented a Town owned facility must also abide by the public health measures in place.
The new measures could affect the number of people watching youth sports take place, for example. Jeffery said the Town will be asking parents and other visitors to abide by the guidelines, but the municipality will not be asking its employees to police facilities. He described policing people as "something that our staff shouldn't be stepping in."
Miller put out a plea to the community to assist the Town in keeping its staff safe, and abide by the rules in an effort to keep facilities open.
Coun. Gary Ward asked what the new public health measures mean for the local Jr. b hockey club. The team was set to start the season in early October and recently wrapped up a weekend camp. Jeffery said he believes the club falls under adult recreation, and therefore must take a pause. But, he noted the new measures are something he still needs to digest, and there are many people left wondering what can continue and what cannot.
Coun. Nathan Taylor asked if the junior hockey club could continue under the new exemption restriction, which allows businesses to operate normally if they request proof of vaccine or proof of a negative COVID test completed within the past 72 hours.
Jeffery said he had a call into municipal affairs, in a bid to explore options as the Town works to keep things open.
Taylor said he would like to be able to offer life as normal to those who are vaccinated, if possible.
Miller said there likely won't be a quick solution, but the Town will "investigate what we can keep open for our community," while conceding, "This has been a long haul for us all."
Jeffery also noted Town of St. Paul staff will work from home when possible, although many staff members are unable to do so, and must come into the office to access reliable Internet, and complete other tasks.