When the COVID epidemic hit, hospitals in the province scrambled to free up beds that could be used for COVID patients. This was accomplished largely through postponement of what are called elective surgeries. These could include patients requiring cancer or cardiac surgery but who are not at a critical stage. According to the Financial Accountability Office of the Ontario Legislature, The cancellations very quickly freed-up an additional 9,349 acute care beds, of which 2,077 were critical care beds. As of April 23, there were 910 hospitalized COVID-19 patients leaving over 9,000 unoccupied acute care hospital beds (including over 2,000 critical care beds). Incidentally the FAO report identified the number of ventilators available in the province—a question that reporters were unable to get answered–just over 2,400. Yesterday Health Minister Christine Elliott acknowledged that the shutdown of elective surgeries probably resulted in some deaths, although the exact number was uncertain.
The FAO says the backlog of elective surgeries is growing at 12,000 a week and that the total number of postponed surgeries is over 50,000. The FAO asks How will Ontario’s health care system return to normal and how much additional funding will be required?