With the rise in COVID cases and the pressure it is placing on Hamilton ICU beds. St Joe’s in implementing its surge strategy. In a memo to staff Dr. David Russell, Chief of Staff, and Dr. Cheryl Williams, Executive Vice President, Clinical Operations and Chief Nursing Executive at St Joes said this third wave is fundamentally different from the first two, with significantly higher demand for critical care resources. In addition, patients are somewhat younger compared to the predominantly elderly population in the first two waves.
The doctors predict that by mid- April 691 patients are projected to require intensive unit care. In Hamilton, over the past 10 days the case rates have been around 131 per day with evidence of both community transmission and outbreaks in shelters and workplaces, including hospitals. This means Hamilton’s case rates (per 100,000) are now comparable to those seen in the traditionally high prevalence regions such as Peel and the GTA.
ICU occupancy has been at or near 100%, paralleling the Provincial experience.
There are four key elements to the surge plan. First, on March 31 four ICU patients were moved to Medical Stepdown to ensure there is ICU capacity for COVID admissions. Second, the hospital-wide level 2 and 3 critical care beds will be separated into COVID-19 positive (ICU) and COVID-19 areas. Third, to accommodate the increased numbers of COVID patients, nursing assignments are being reviewed to ensure maximum support for these critical care areas. Fourth, the hospital plans to maintain as much scheduled surgery as possible.
To date, the hospital has been able to maintain scheduled surgery at close to maximum capacity The establishment of the satellite facility in downtown Hamilton has helped with the crowding issue — a vast improvement compared to the situation in the midst of the second wave.