WINCHESTER – Recent Covid restrictions that have taken the province back a step caused community organizations to take a look at their own rules and regulations regarding being pandemic ready.

The Winchester District Memorial Hospital, (WDMH), is more than ready to deal with the effects of the pandemic.

After the announcement that the province was going back to a modified stage 2 situation, the WDMH made a few changes to its pandemic regulations. The changes are in line with what the province is proposing.

The hospital’s CEO Cholly Boland said, “We want to keep our patients safe and keep Omicron out of WDMH as much as possible,” he added, “We also want to protect our staff so they can continue to take care of our communities. We are all in this together.”

Inpatient visiting at WDMH has been further reduced and is now allowed for long-stay patients, maternity patients, specific Emergency Department patients, and compassionate situations such as palliative care.

WDMH will be reducing elective services according to the government’s recent directive. Any patients affected by this will be contacted by the hospital.

Changes have been made to protect staff as well. Those who can work remotely are doing so, and volunteers are being asked to stay home. The hospital is ensuring staff has the proper personal protective equipment including N95 masks and access to rapid testing. It has also implemented practices to help ensure physical distancing whenever possible, such as when on lunch breaks. “99 per cent of our staff and physicians have received all three COVID shots which reduces the risk of contracting and transmitting the virus,” said Boland.

Everyone is asked to continue to follow public health guidelines by wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene, limiting contacts, and most important, getting vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19.

“We are taking considerable precautions throughout WDMH,” said Boland. “One of our most important messages to the community is for prospective patients to come to the hospital if they need hospital care – and not to stay away for fear of COVID. We are here for you.”

While the hospital is making sure its patients, and staff are protected, North Dundas mayor, Tony Fraser reassured North Dundas residents that the municipality is optimistic about the latest pandemic rules and regulations.

In a You Tube video he said: “While, we all hope for a prosperous new year, and certainly, we’re all discouraged [about] where we find ourselves again, this is extremely difficult on everyone, including your health care workers, teachers, small business owners, essential workers, kids’ sports and activities, the elderly, the list goes on. It is especially challenging for the students in our community and their families that are trying to juggle their busy lives along with online schooling.”

Fraser stressed that the need for everyone to support each other has never been as important as it is now. He said, “While so many important activities and events have been closed or cancelled, we need to continue to find ways to remain connected and active for our mental health and well-being with gyms and other recreational facilities.”

The mayor is looking forward to a time when Covid is in the rear-view mirror.

He said, “I can only look forward to spring where we can hopefully enjoy the wonderful gatherings and events that our community is known for. I personally look forward to the Meet Me on Mainstreet events and activities that help us keep us connected as a community. In the fall, I began gathering information to be able to offer canoes to kayak lending libraries in the communities with water access. I look forward to continuing that discussion with our recreation director this winter.”

He said the municipality is planning to break ground this year on the new Palmetto Park. “We are moving forward with our efforts to provide more water to our area. We also continue to investigate ways to secure long-term security for our water supply. And finally, I want to thank the employees and volunteers of the House of Lazarus, Community Food Share the Rotary Club, the Lions Clubs, the Legions group, those groups that support those that are struggling during these very hard times. If you know someone in need, please direct them to these groups to ensure they receive the support they need.

For more information about what WDMH is doing about the pandemic visit www.wdmh.on.ca. or www.wdmh.on.ca/visitors.

If you are looking for ideas about recreation possibilities, you can visit the North Dundas website at northdundas.com.

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