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An update for our communities

Thursday January 6, 2022

  • COVID-19

An update for our communities

The spread of the Omicron variant is unlike anything we have encountered in the pandemic to date. Within one week the number of patients admitted with COVID-19 at Southlake has increased from 20 to more than 60. We continue to see significant numbers of staff test positive or require time off due to being exposed to someone with COVID-19. 

Based on provincial directives and the need to preserve hospital capacity and reduce the spread of the virus, Southlake has had to make a series of difficult decisions. In light of this rapidly changing situation, we want to provide an update to our communities on a number of important topics.  


Cancelling surgeries 

With cases and hospitalizations increasing at an alarming pace, all hospitals in Ontario have been directed to cancel selected surgeries in order to increase bed capacity and free up staff to be redeployed. Southlake is following this directive and staff from our surgical program have already started to care for patients in other areas of the hospital. If you have an upcoming surgical procedure your physician’s office will contact you if any changes have been made. We understand the anxiety this causes for patients, caregivers and family members, and we will resume more surgeries as soon as the provincial directive is adjusted and we are able. 


Visitor restrictions 

As we navigate the rapidly changing pandemic, we are always looking to ensure a safe environment for everyone at Southlake. On December 31, 2021 we moved back to a more restrictive visitor policy. We understand how important visitors are to patients and this decision was not made lightly. Our policy for Designated Care Partners has not changed. Southlake also continues to offer virtual patient visits and telephones in patient rooms are free. For more information on visitor guidelines click here. 



Staffing has become a significant challenge and we are doing everything we can to mitigate this. Healthcare workers are now more impacted by the increased spread of COVID-19 in the community than ever before. This, combined with the increased number of patients in the hospital with COVID-19, continues to put pressure on our teams. Similar to previous waves, we have started to redeploy staff into different areas of the hospital based on patient need. Our amazing staff and physicians are the heart and soul of Southlake. Their dedication, tenacity and compassion has been a constant source of inspiration throughout the pandemic. 


Southlake’s Emergency Department does not provide COVID-19 testing 

Please note that we do not perform COVID-19 testing in Southlake’s Emergency Department. PCR testing at Southlake’s Assessment Centre is limited to specific individuals based on provincial criteria. Click here to view the criteria and details for how to book an appointment if you qualify. Visit Ontario.ca/exposed if you think you may have COVID-19 or were exposed to the virus. 


Get your third dose if you haven’t already 

As cases of COVID-19 rise across our communities, vaccination plays a critical role by dramatically reducing the likelihood of severe disease and the need for hospitalization. Please click here to book your appointment. If you are unvaccinated, it is never too late to get your first dose and protect yourself and your loved ones. Please also continue to follow public health guidelines, limit gatherings, clean your hands often and wear a mask. 


Please be kind 

We understand that these measures may impact you or your family directly. We do not make these decisions lightly and we are doing everything we can to support our community during this difficult time. The nearly 4,000 staff and physicians who work at Southlake also live in our communities. On top of the stresses these healthcare workers experience as we enter month 23 of the pandemic, they are also encountering the same challenges as everyone else, including new lockdowns and adapting again to virtual school. Please be kind and treat others with respect. 


At Southlake we pride ourselves on being “by your side.” Never has this been more true than throughout the pandemic. Regardless of what the coming weeks may bring, please know that the dedicated staff and physicians at Southlake will continue to do their best each and every day for the communities they serve. 


Arden Krystal
President and CEO