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One year of COVID-19 at Southlake

Thursday March 11, 2021

March 11 marks one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and March 16 is the anniversary of our first admitted patient with COVID-19 at Southlake.

Our lives over the last year, both at work and at home, have been upended and changed in countless ways. As we approach this anniversary we are reflecting on the past year – both on the challenges and successes.

Southlake’s experience during the pandemic thus far:

  • We launched an Incident Management Team and Emergency Operations Centre in January 2020.
  • The first patient with COVID-19 was admitted to our Intensive Care Unit on March 16, 2020, five days after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic. Since then we have cared for over 100 patients with COVID-19 in our ICU and more than 360 in our other units.
  • We opened one of the province’s first drive-thru Assessment Centres in March 2020. Later this moved to temporary field tents and most recently to the Newmarket Seniors’ Centre. To date we have tested more than 136,000 people.
  • Southlake was the first Ontario hospital to publicly post COVID-19 daily patient volumes online.
  • We were also one of the first hospitals to be given a Mandatory Management Order to oversee a long-term care facility. We have since created a Community of Practice to support local long-term care homes.
  • In early January 2021, Southlake opened Ontario’s first mass vaccination centre.

In addition to these milestones, this past year has also been about how our teams supported each other through an incredibly challenging time. Thank you to our courageous doctors, nurses and staff at Southlake, and to our community for always being by our side.

From the time that Ontario declared a state of emergency, Southlake has redeployed enthusiastic staff, constructed screening centres, communicated openly with our people and our community and implemented digital communication tools. We’ve suffered exhaustion. We’ve grieved alongside loved ones. We’ve comforted our friends and colleagues. We’ve celebrated the pride of graduations. We’ve cheered on the triumph of our recovered patients. We’ve welcomed the outpouring of community support in the form of parades and generously donated food and supplies. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, and we’ve danced. Throughout these experiences, we rose to the occasion. Through it all, we stayed By Your Side.

Julie Anne was admitted to Southlake in early March. When she came to the hospital with symptoms of COVID-19, her health deteriorated so quickly that she needed to be put on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma, for two weeks. She was in the hospital for a month, and only able to see her husband and four-year-old twins via FaceTime. In April 2020, we had the honour of celebrating Julie Anne’s recovery as staff lined the hallways and clapped for her on her way out. Her husband and babies were waiting for her outside. We are so proud of Julie Anne and how far she’s come!