Learning from the First Wave to Manage the Second

Dr. Matthew Muller, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at St. Michael’s, shares his views on staying safe through the winter and an update on the hospital’s response.

Dr. Matthew Muller, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at St. Michael’s Hospital, checked in to provide an update on how St. Michael’s is dealing with the second wave of COVID-19.

How has St. Michael’s approach to fighting the pandemic changed in the second wave?

We learned a lot from the first wave, and continue to implement strategies to prevent transmission‑‑all staff are masked at all times and wearing face shields for all patient care, for example. At the same time, we’ve learned how to keep providing safe care during a pandemic wave. Despite large numbers of community cases, we’ve been able to continue with scheduled surgeries and have visitors come to the hospital in wave two, unlike in wave one. So we have learned what works to prevent transmission and also how to continue to provide care in the midst of a wave.

How has the hospital managed the COVID-19 outbreak in the Emergency Department?

We tested all ED staff to ensure we identified all cases of COVID-19, and have followed up with all patients that were exposed to the positive staff. No patients developed COVID-19 and all have tested negative. We are continuing to monitor the ED staff and repeat testing is underway. We have also enhanced infection control and cleaning in the ED and are confident that the situation is under control and that patients are safe in the ED.

What are your three tips to stay safe through the second wave and the cold weather?

Hand hygiene, masking and physical/social distancing remain the key strategies to keep yourself safe. Hand hygiene and masking have been fairly well implemented in Toronto, but distancing remains hard for many people to understand. Right now, with the numbers rising, we need to follow the public health advice to remain home as much as possible, not socialize outside our family bubbles, and stick to essential tasks outside the home. It’s important to realize that while masks work, they are not 100% effective, so we still need to avoid gathering and being physically close to others indoors, even when masked

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