It’s important our community knows that we’re here, we’re always open and that if you need to come to the emergency department, we will keep you safe.
— Dr. Paul Hannam, Chief of Emergency Medicine
It was around the second week of January when it became clear to me that the COVID-19 outbreak was going to be a very different situation from what I experienced as an emergency department doctor with SARS in 2003. COVID-19 was spreading much more quickly. In the emergency department, we knew we had to focus on the future, adapt quickly to new information and be decisive.
Initially, the changes we made in the emergency department felt relatively minor. We did a lot of planning while we were still seeing high rates of respiratory illness due to seasonal influenza. The real shift occurred when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
With record numbers of people coming, we needed new processes, new schedules and new space in which to work. We had to act quickly, and with incredible support from across the hospital, we built an entirely new COVID-19 Assessment Centre adjacent to the Charlotte & Lewis Steinberg Emergency in just a couple of days, and we were the first operating in the city.
Each day, we learned more about how COVID-19 can affect people as well as what we can do to help. None of us has experienced a pandemic like this first-hand, but we know what high-quality emergency medicine looks like. Our team has a long history of excellence in emergency medicine education as well as a strong international network to keep us informed. We are dedicated to keeping both our patients and our staff safe.
As challenging as this situation is for us in the emergency department, knowing that our community is supporting us, whether through messages of gratitude or donations to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund or PPE Drive, gives us hope that we’re all going to get through this together. It’s important our community knows that we’re here, we’re always open and that if you need to come to the emergency department, we will keep you safe.