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Mount St John Medical Centre (MSJMC) will be suspending all non-essential services to the general public at it seeks to “enable social distancing and keep everyone safe” in the midst of the COVID-19 world pandemic.

According to a release from hospital officials the public will still have access to essential treatments such as cancer care, high-risk antenatal care, and kidney dialysis.

The hospital also stated that many existing appointments are also being cancelled and that “care teams are reviewing appointments, and you will be contacted regarding your appointment status. Care teams are also reviewing other ways to be in contact with patients, including via phone calls and other online mediums”.

All elective surgeries – a surgery scheduled in advance that does not involve a medical emergency – will be cancelled.

“The decision was made with guidance from the Medical Director. This will free up beds for patients most in need of care. It will also reduce exposure risks to our patients and families, as well as our staff. You will be contacted by phone if your surgery is impacted,” the hospital release stated.

The new guidelines do not apply to emergency surgeries.

Planned imaging procedures such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), mammograms and non-invasive cardiology testing will not be cancelled at this time. In that vein the hospital made an appeal to referring physicians to be mindful of the current situation and refer only urgent cases for imaging studies.

The hospital reminded that if someone is seeking care because they think they may have COVID-19 to first call the response hotline – 46-COVID (462-6843).

“Many people who have the illness do not need emergency or urgent care,” they urged. The hospital asserted that hotline responders will be able to give guidance as to the right level of care for the symptoms being experienced.

The advisory stated, however, that if, “you are experiencing trouble breathing, it is important to get to the Emergency Department [ED] as quickly as possible, no matter what. Make sure you let our ED staff know as soon as you walk in that you have respiratory symptoms. If you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or you have travelled internationally recently, share that information with our staff right away too”.

Any person who thinks they may have COVID-19 is being asked to call the response hotline for guidance. If they determine a visit to MSJMC to be necessary, the hotline officials will direct appropriately.

Persons are also being asked speak to their health care provider “who will coordinate with the appropriate public health officials to determine next steps”.

The public is also being advised that guidance for specific situations previously listed could change as the COVID-19 situation evolves. As such, persons are asked to follow the hospital’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/MSJMC), Instagram (www.instagram.com/MtSJMC) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/MtSJMC).