In a memo to staff at St Joseph’s Healthcare Dr. David Russell, Chief of Staff and VP Academic and Medical Affairs, and Dr. Cheryl Williams, Executive Vice President, Clinical Operations and Chief Nursing Executive, say Hamilton hospital capacity is being challenged by the third wave of COVID. Medical experts have been saying that it’s hospital capacity that triggers lockdowns more than case counts.
The doctors write, “we have been experiencing these concerning trends. Today, our Critical Care unit is caring for 14 Active COVID-19 patients and another 14 COVID-19 patients are being cared for in the COVID-19 Unit. In addition, our acute medicine/surgical occupancy has been rising in the past few days.”
OHA says system is reaching saturation point
Anthony Dale, President and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, released a statement today saying that, “As the third wave of COVID-19 continues to worsen, the critical care system in Ontario appears to be reaching its saturation point,” noting that there are 401 COVID-19 ICU admissions in the province, 74 of them admitted in the last 48 hours. The highest number of COVID patients in ICU in Ontario was 420 on Jan. 15, and “Ontario seems likely to reach and surpass this in the days ahead.” Today’s ICU count is 365.
“Our hospitals are not immune from this community spread,” the memo continues. “We currently have three COVID-positive healthcare workers and 33 healthcare workers on self-isolation due to contact tracing. Similarly, Hamilton Health Sciences has also been experiencing heightened capacity pressures and this morning reported having 90 COVID-19 patients. As a city partner and in support of patient care, St. Joe’s has been accepting HHS medicine patients over the past week, and has received a larger share of EMS patients with suspicion of COVID-19.”
“We also work on a regional and provincial level on COVID care. As part of the provincial system of health care, all four of our regional consolidated COVID-19 hospitals (St. Joe’s, HHS, Joseph Brant and Niagara) have been accepting transfers of patients with COVID-19 from the GTA. While a regional request was made to temporarily consider the recent capacity pressures in Hamilton as inter-regional transfer decisions are made, our regional hospitals have never closed to supporting the GTA in accepting patient transfers. “
“At St. Joe’s we are working to shore up staffing numbers in our ICU, and across our units to ensure we have the right support through this Wave 3 of the pandemic. While surgeries on some days have been postponed, for the most part, our surgical teams have managed to continue to operate at more than 100 per cent capacity in an effort to deal with the backlog created through Wave 1. As COVID pressures increase, we are evaluating the need to curtail some elective work to free up bed capacity.”