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COVID numbers dropping, but Hospital crunch is still critical

COVID numbers dropping, but Hospital crunch is still critical

Health officials generally are in agreement that we appear to have passed the peak of the Omicron wave and case numbers are diminishing. Unfortunately, the decrease in cases isn’t being felt, at least not yet, in the Hamilton Hospital system.

A memo to staff and stakeholders from St. Joseph’s Healthcare describes a critical situation that has resulted in some patients being moved to hospitals outside the city.

The memo notes, “Despite extraordinary measures to create additional capacity for critical care services, pressures on the Hamilton-Niagara-Haldimand-Brant-Burlington (HNHBB) region’s critical care capacity have worsened over the last week.

These pressures are threatening hospitals’ capacity for time-sensitive surgeries and procedures, and access to critical care through our emergency departments and regional specialty programs.

This response, endorsed by the HNHBB hospital presidents, follows a number of actions that we have already taken at St. Joe’s to prioritize care for patients needing critical, emergency and acute care services, including opening additional beds, redeploying staff and pausing non-urgent services. In addition, between January 9 and January 27, 18 patients have been transferred from HNHBB hospitals to hospitals outside of our region, including one from St. Joe’s.”

The memo acknowledges the stress these patient transfers will have on staff, patients and their families, saying, “it’s an unfortunate but necessary measure to ensure that all critical care patients in our region can receive the care they need.”

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