Man in rehab, man worries patients with overflow will take up hospital gym space

David Megginson learns to walk again after emergency surgery to remove a cancerous tumor that was compressing his spine.

He fears his recovery will be delayed if the gym and exercise facility he and his fellow patients use at the Ottawa Rehabilitation Center are needed as a patient overflow space.

“It feels like a knot is getting tighter around us,” said 57-year-old Megginson.

“It’s a very systemic problem. It’s not like ripples, it’s like tsunamis from COVID cases.”

The Ottawa Hospital already uses the gymnasium on the general campus to accommodate overcrowded patients, but hospital spokesman Rebecca Abelson said the gym in the rehabilitation center could also be used as needed.

It’s all part of the hospital’s plans to respond to increasing cases of COVID-19 and health care staff shortages.

On Thursday, the hospital reported 148 patients with COVID-19, 15 of whom are in intensive care.

Abelson said the number of patients receiving care at the general’s gymnasium fluctuates every day, depending on need.

“Using the gymnasium gives staff more space and can provide more general support to patients,” she wrote.

‘We just want him to come home’

Megginson’s time in the hospital began in early October with a visit to the emergency room because he was having trouble walking. What he thought might be a hernia turned out to be a tumor requiring surgery, which left him paralyzed.

“I’m just waiting for the nerves to wake up. I’m making good progress, but I’ve been in the hospital for three and a half months,” he said.

Megginson’s wife, Bonnie Robinson, said the experience has been a tough one for the family and she fears her husband could face an extended stay if the hospital can’t keep up with new patient needs.

Robinson said it bothers her when people describe the Omicron variant as just a cold, without understanding the implications the latest variant of COVID-19 has on health care.

Megginson worries about his treatment and that of his fellow patients at the rehab center when the gym they use is needed to accommodate overcrowded patients. (Submitted by Bonnie Robinson)

In December, Robinson said her husband’s treatment had been delayed for about three weeks following a COVID outbreak on his floor.

“We just want him to go home. So if he’s delayed on that treatment, he may not be able to go home as quickly as he would otherwise,” Robinson said.

At the moment, Megginson said he mainly uses the gym associated with the gym, but hopes to switch to a walker soon before going home in the coming weeks.

“It just gets harder and harder, and I know we’re not unique in that here at the rehab center. I know that’s happening all over healthcare,” he said.

The hospital said it will continue to make adjustments to ensure all patient care can continue, including physical therapy.

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