Island Health top doctor says COVID situation stabilizing ahead of delayed retirement

Island Health top doctor says COVID situation stabilizing ahead of delayed retirement
Dr. Richard Stanwick is retiring this week after 26 years working in public health.

In his last news conference as Chief Medical Health Officer for Island Health, Dr. Richard Stanwick says the COVID-19 situation is stabilizing enough to allow him to step aside — a retirement delayed over two months amid the latest wave of the virus.

“Our ICUs are not rising. Ten today, that’s the same as three weeks ago. What has risen is the number of people in hospital. And probably 40 per cent to 45 per cent of them are there because they’re there with COVID rather than from COVID. It’s an incidental finding.”

Stanwick was originally set to retire at the end of 2021 but delayed his retirement due to the Omicron wave.

He says while the number of hospitalizations is rising, the situation is not as dire as it seems.

“The people who are in our hospital, clearly it does appear that Omicron is not as severe as we’ve seen from other studies with shorter hospital stays,” Stanwick said. “We’re being strained in that 70 people who have identified with COVID, but probably of those 70, 30 are there because it was picked up as something in addition to why they are being treated.”

WATCH: As Omicron cases explode, Island Health ramps up booster shot program

Stanwick adds that modelling data that predict hospitalizations in B.C. could rise to approximately 2,000 people appears to be off the mark.

“With all due respect to the modellers, one of the most important measures we’re seeing coming from Vancouver Coastal and Fraser is basically the amount of virus in sewage. You can’t stop getting rid of your virus, it’s just nature. And guess what? Numbers are dropping.”

But Stanwick is concerned that COVID is not finished yet with so many unvaccinated.

“Because variants are going to continue to emerge because we are still leaving huge segments of the rural population any matters. And so you know, there’s just so many lessons actually that could be could be learned.”

When Stanwick leaves his office for the last time on Friday, he will have served more than 26 years in public health.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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