LONDON, ONT. -- The past 13 months has taught many lessons as the world has battled the COVID-19 pandemic, including lessons for the hospital system.

“I think we’ve learned a lot in health care in the last year and a little bit. How unprepared we were for something like this, this category to happen” says Alicia Lutz from the Erie Shores Health Centre.

The challenges were quickly evolving and with that all hospital staff adapted the emerging threats according to the London Health Science Centre’s (LHSC) Dr. Michael Payne.

“Given the rapid change in guidelines and evidence in epidemiology that occurs in increasing rates, we have to constantly change and manage our procedures within the hospitals.”

The people who have to put the procedures in place say they don’t take the job lightly, and safety is their job.

“This is the time when, in a pandemic such as this and the magnitude of it, this is when our hospital and our community has needed us the most. This is when we’ve been the most visible and I think that is going to change how care is given in the future,” says Lori Kroesbergen, an infection control professional at LHSC.

Currently, the capacity in the province's hospitals, especially the intensive care units (ICU), is beyond stressed, but in some places in southwestern Ontario that hasn’t happened yet, like the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, which doesn’t have a single COVID-19 case in their ICU.

“We’re fortunate that right now, we’re not in that position. But we do know that based on what is happening across the province that we probably won’t be an outlier for long” says Lori Marshall, the president and CEO of Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.

The learning is likely to continue after the pandemic is over, and many of these professionals believe it will change how health care is delivered. From PPE to virtual appointments, the changes are expected to be many.