COVID-19 Update from SLMHC – April 15, 2020

To the Communities We Serve

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic announcement, Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC) implemented its full pandemic plan in early March. Since that time, our team has been collaborating with partners at the local, regional, provincial and federal levels to plan for the needs of everyone we serve.

The safety of our patients, residents, staff, physicians and our communities is our highest priority and as the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve around the globe. We want you to be confident with our planning and precautions that have been implemented.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Like so many others, we are aware of the critical shortage of PPE across the world. Our team is working well together to monitor our inventory on a daily basis to ensure that we have enough stock to keep our staff, physicians and patients/residents safe. Knowing that the conservation of medical-grade PPE is essential for the hospital, we took the initiative to have cloth masks made for our non-frontline staff to save the approved masks for our front-line workers.   This, when combined with social distancing measures, will help to keep everyone protected.

Emergency Department

Within the Emergency department, areas commonly called HOT and COLD zones have been created to provide a separation between patients who present for care with symptoms of COVID-19 and those who are presenting for care without symptoms. This separation is well marked within the department for the safety of everyone.

SLMHC Dedicated COVID-19 Unit

In mid-March, as part of our pandemic planning, a team of our staff and physicians created a dedicated COVID-19 wing where negative air pressure units have been installed in each room. Negative air pressure is essential in reducing the spread of the virus.   Any patients that have been, and/or will be, admitted as a hospital inpatient with symptoms of the virus are admitted to these specific rooms until test results are confirmed.

Staff within this wing has been trained on, and will be using, specific personal protective equipment such as gowns, gloves, masks and eye protection. At this time, there have been no patients with a positive COVID-19 test admitted to the hospital.

Extended Care Unit

Two weeks ago, as part of the surge capacity plan developed in collaboration with Ontario Health, 10 transitional care spaces were developed within the William A. George Extended Care facility (ECU) to accommodate clients destined for a long term care bed but waiting in hospital. Each space was carefully reviewed to ensure appropriateness for client care, safety and privacy. To support the additional capacity at ECU, staff members from the hospital who were familiar with the transferred clients were deployed to ECU. This strategy assisted in a smooth transition to the clients’ temporary location during this unprecedented time.  

ECU administration and staff have taken great care to see that all necessary precautions have been taken to protect our residents at ECU, as well as the new individuals transitioned from the hospital.

Visitor Restrictions and Additional Precautions

Restrictions related to visitors play a critical role in lessening the spread of the COVID-19 virus. On March 11 and March 14, visitor restrictions were implemented at ECU and the hospital respectively. The only exceptions to the visitor restriction are as follows: “One essential visitor (must be approved and pass screening) may be permitted for an expectant mother in labour, a pediatric patient and a patient who is imminently at end of life.” We appreciate the public’s cooperation with these restrictions as we all work together to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, we implemented a directive for all staff, physicians and approved essential visitors at the hospital and the ECU to wear a surgical mask while on shift. While we are conscious of the short supply of personal protective equipment across the province, we are well-positioned to support this directive to ensure the physical and emotional safety of everyone involved.

Thank You

On behalf of the SLMHC Board of Directors, Management, Staff and Physicians we thank you for the significant support we are receiving. Along with the many donations of food and equipment, and emails and online posts in support of our team, we know that you have done your part to stay home as much as possible and followed Ontario’s social distancing guidelines.

As a hospital, we also wish to thank all the individual communities and local businesses who have enacted staying home, social distancing and other precautions to keep everyone safe. We are all in this together and our collective actions will help stop the spread.

For Sioux Lookout residents who are concerned about symptoms of COVID-19, contact our Assessment Centre at 737-5880 to book an appointment, or call the Northwestern Health Unit’s COVID hotline at 1-866-468-2240 for advice.

To stay up to date on SLMHC activities during this pandemic, follow us on Facebook @menoyawin or visit our website at