As COVID-19 cases surge across the province, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) says its ready to take in hospital patients from regions hit hardest by the virus.
On Thursday, Ontario Health announced hospitals across the province are being instructed to prepare to accept COVID-19 patients from different cities as case numbers spike and space in intensive care units reaches capacity.
Dr. David Pichora, president of Kingston Health Sciences Centre, says the region has a dozen of its 77 critical care beds available, as of Saturday afternoon.
"It very well could be COVID patients," Dr. Pichora tells CTV News Ottawa. "It’s medicine or surgery patients, ICU, non-ICU, COVID, non-COVID, it’s whatever will make a difference to the hospitals that are really overwhelmed."
With 57 active cases in the Kingston, Frontenac Lennox and Addington health region and three COVID patients in hospital, Pichora says that health care staff are prepared to assist overburdened hospitals in cities like the Greater Toronto Area.
"I wouldn’t expect seeing any transfers as part of this initiative until at least this coming week," says Pichora.
But for some, bringing COVID patients into the region is seen as concerning.
Kingston resident Darlene Slack says it’s something she’s not comfortable with, as cases are already steadily increasing in the region.
"It’ll explode," she says. "We’ve seen it exploding in other places."
For Kingston resident Henry Treier, he feels if the hospitals have the capacity, he supports it.
"It just would make common sense. If we have room here in the ICU beds to take on other individuals we should be doing our part here," he explains.
As ICU preparations take place, this region still has yet to distribute it’s first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. In a statement, officials say there’s no date they can provide for when they will be administered, only saying it will be in the “near future.”
"Health-care workers and essential caregivers in long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes will be considered top priority candidates for receiving vaccinations," read the statement.
That has some residents with mixed feelings about bringing those who could be carrying the virus into the city, before vaccines begin.
John Barbosa is fine with bringing COVID patients to be cared for by local hospitals, but still would like progress made in distributing vaccinations.
"Front line people that are involved in it every day should have been started to get treated by now," says Barbosa.
For Kingston resident Marcia Rose, she says numbers are controlled enough that it should continue to go to hard hit regions.
"I think because we do have good numbers they should focus on higher numbers like Toronto and Peel."
Dr. Pichora says the COVID projections can’t be ignored, and the hospital is ready, with safety protocols and procedures in place to offer it’s help.
"There’s so much prevalence in the province, it’s hard to imagine that we can, you know, remain completely isolated from this forever so it’s better to be prepared and face up to it."