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Annual Report 2021 - Answering the Call: Waypoint's pandemic response

Like everyone else, we could not have predicted we would still be fighting COVID-
Answering the Call 
Answering the Call 
Answering the Call 
Answering the Call 
Answering the Call 
19 more than a year after the pandemic was declared. The last year has been one of significant change at the hospital with strict infection prevention and control measures (IPAC), visitor restrictions, and shifts in how we deliver treatment and care. 

For most of the last year, off-unit programming has been suspended, outpatient care has been delivered virtually, many staff have been redeployed to other duties, and others are working from home. While some services were suspended at the onset of the pandemic, our teams have worked tirelessly to develop protocols so we can provide support and resume services when it is safe to do so. 

Early on, we created an isolation/admission unit for all new patients and for any experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The team has been exemplary in being innovative to provide mental health care under strict safety precautions. When the provincial health care system started experiencing considerable pressures and limited capacity for critically ill patients, we added beds to this unit and additional isolation areas throughout the hospital to take patients and free up space at other hospitals to meet the demands as a result of COVID-19. 

Working with our community partners, we answered the call to support the local COVID-19 Assessment Centre and later on, the COVID-19 Immunization Clinic. Both of these initiatives are part of our commitment to collectively beat this pandemic.

Thanks to the commitment of staff, the hospital weathered the first ten months of the pandemic with very few staff cases and no patient cases. As we entered the new year and began to see increased community spread, and the emergence of the variants of concern, an outbreak was declared on our Awenda Program, followed a few weeks later with an outbreak on the Horizon Program. The Awenda Program outbreak resolved quickly with a small number of cases, but sadly the Horizon Program outbreak was more severe and seven patient lives were lost.  

With feedback from staff and input from infection control experts, we have updated our outbreak protocols to help prevent any further transmission of the virus.

The challenges staff, patients and families have faced have been significant, yet we are inspired every day as they live through these challenges with grace. Caring for each other has also never been so apparent. We are proud of the launch of the following programs aimed at doing just that:

COVID Frontline Wellness

Offering free, confidential coping and wellness support for front-line workers in partnership with four other hospitals across the province.

ECHOES Research Project

Effects of COVID-19 on Health Care Providers: Opportunities for Education and Support (ECHOES) is a research study in partnership with Georgian College designed to learn more about health care providers' experiences with the pandemic and the impact on clinicians and their practice.

Mindfulness Ambassador Program

A Waypoint Research Institute study in partnership with Georgian College and Mindfulness Without Borders on the effectiveness of a four-week mindfulness skills course offered virtually, compared to the 12-week in person program. The study has concluded but the free mindfulness skills program is still offered monthly.

STOP COVID Research Project

A study by the Waypoint Research Institute to ensure we are doing everything possible to protect the health and well-being of all Waypoint health care workers during our response to this unprecedented pandemic.


We are maintaining our focus on safety while continuing the journey to a future that goes beyond mental health to support body, mind and spirit. With many thanks to Dr. Kevin Young, Medical Director of Integrated Care for his leadership and education on mRNA vaccines, most staff and patients now have one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and we are excited for the possibilities full vaccination brings. We look forward to the future where services resume and when we can safely welcome visitors and volunteers again.