N.S. doctor, COVID-19 patient send warning as ICUs approach capacity

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 has gone up in Nova Scotia, and officials project the count could keep climbing.

The recent rise in hospitalizations is leading both medical professionals and patients to urge people to stay home and stop the spread.

Battling COVID-19 in a Halifax hospital, 30-year-old Danica Pettipas says she is surrounded by healthcare workers, but feels utterly alone.

“I just wish someone could be by my side, it would feel so much better,” says Pettipas.

Pettipas was first interviewed by CTV Atlantic on Monday morning. That afternoon, she feeling well enough to be able to leave the hospital, but then had to be rushed back.

It remains unclear how she contracted the virus.

“My case is untraceable. It could have been as easy as working in retail,” says Pettipas, who says she began feeling COVID-19 symptoms on April 19, tested positive on April 22, and was admitted into hospital April 23.

In a post to Facebook, Pettipas detailed her experience with the virus, and issued a warning to others. The post has been shared thousands of times.

Hi to all my friends and family. Covid 19 is no joke. You may think its cool to gather in big gatherings, not wear...

Posted by Danica Pettipas on  Saturday, April 24, 2021

According to the province’s COVID-19 dashboard, Nova Scotia currently has 22 patients in hospital with five in the ICU.

“Simultaneously, so the pace of the illness seems to be different,” says Dr. Sarah McMullen. “It seems to be primarily the variants of concern.”

Dr. McMullen works in the Intensive Care Unit. She says during the entire first wave, Halifax only saw eight patients in the ICU.

“We’re seeing folks that quite a bit younger and healthy, in addition to the same demographic that we had last time,” says McMullen.

Health officials say they haven’t had to make more space for COVID-19 patients yet, but they have plans to do so, as they expect the case count to continue to rise significantly.

“It’s not going to take much more to fill us up in the ICU here in Halifax, in terms of COVID capacity,” says McMullen. “If that happens, then we’d have to enact plans to house sick COVID patients in other units other than Intensive Care.”

According to the Nova Scotia Health Authority, province-wide the ICU capacity is at 80 per cent.

The authority says there are 56 designated beds for COVID-19 patients, a number that can be increased if necessary.

Hospitalized patients like Pettipas are left waiting and hoping for improvement, and that the rest of the province understands their warning and protects themselves.

“I’m a perfectly healthy young woman,” says Pettipas. “If I can get it, anyone can.”