Hospital CEOs across the province received a 7-page memo from Ontario Health advising them to prepare to accept COVID-19 patients from outside their regions.
Ontario Health issued the notice after projections showed that by Jan. 24, Ontario will see more than 500 COVID-19-related critical illness patients in intensive care units and over 1,700 COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“To meet these needs, we must continue to do more to work as a single, seamless hospital system,” said Ontario Health CEO Matthew Anderson.
Facilities with available ICU bed capacity would see patients from overwhelmed hospitals transferred for care.
According to Kingston-area public health, there are two people in ICU. Because of the available hospital space, Kingston may soon be caring for COVID-19 patients from overwhelmed hospitals to alleviate pressure.
“Are we anticipating and getting ready? Yes. Do we know when or what the request may look like? No,” said Dr. David Pichora, CEO of Kingston Health Sciences Centre.
As of Friday, 600 people are in ICUs across the province battling COVID-19, and that number may increase as the number of cases reached a record high of 4,249.
If Kingston is called upon, Kingston General Hospital currently has 13 available ICU beds, Providence Care can hold around 60, and once the renovation is complete at Hotel Dieu Hospital, it will have 45 beds, according to Dr. Pichora.
“We’re working hard to open a field hospital and other health facilities at the former St. Mary’s on the Lake site,” said Dr. Pichora.
The field hospital would be able to care for around 90 patients.
Although the community has hundreds of available beds, an increase in staff would be required.
“The real challenge is staffing — we have to open those units and staff them on short notice. That’s going to be a real challenge,” said Dr. Pichora.
According to Friday’s provincial report, 1,382 cases were recorded in Toronto (which includes the 450 older cases), 691 were in Peel Region, 427 in York Region, 213 in Niagara Region, 184 in Windsor-Essex, 176 in Hamilton and 170 in Durham Region.
All other public health units in Ontario reported under 150 new cases in the provincial report.
The death toll in the province has risen to 4,882 as 26 more deaths were reported.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford addressed the province following the record daily case count as the Province remains in lockdown.
“This is the most serious situation we’ve ever been in ever ever since the beginning of this pandemic,” said Ford.
Ontario’s associate chief medical health officer, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, joined Ford during his press briefing on Friday and said hospitals are starting to cut back on elective surgeries and other important procedures that require ICU care.
It’s an issue that Kingston is hoping to get in front of.
“We’re trying to do as much as we can, as close to normal or even more than normal rates as possible to catch up on the backlog—these are day to day decisions, quite frankly, about what our capacity is,” said Dr. Pichora.
Dr. Pichora says the hospital will be notified 48-hours in advance of the arrival of COVID-19 patients, giving them two days to be ready to accept them.
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