Hospitals in Ontario are now being instructed to prepare to accept COVID-19 patients from across the province as case numbers spike and space in intensive care reaches capacity.
Ontario Health’s President and CEO Matthew Anderson made the call Thursday while outlining the steps hospitals must take “immediately” to provide care for all patients in the province, whether they are infected with the novel coronavirus or not.
“To meet these needs, we must continue to do more to work as a single, seamless hospital system,” Anderson wrote in a memo obtained by CTV News Toronto.
Anderson said hospitals with unoccupied adult ICU beds must reserve approximately one-third of their space for transfers from other hospitals that are exceeding their own capacity, regardless of where that patient was being treated originally.
“This includes accepting patients from other hospitals in and outside your regions, sharing resources, and prioritizing—so we can continue to provide safe, effective care to both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients across the province.”
The memo goes onto say that Ontario Health is working with the Ontario Critical Care COVID-19 Command Centre to provide hospitals with instructions on the beds that need to be reserved.
As well, the memo states that hospitals in areas of community transmission should have a plan in place to “appropriately defer non-time-sensitive care, if required.”
Facilities in those areas are being instructed to continue all surgical, procedural, and other non-COVID-19 in-person care “without delay” if it is considered time-sensitive.
Several Toronto area hospitals announced on Thursday that they are temporarily transferring paediatric patients to SickKids hospital to create additional bed spaces for COVID-19 patients.
As of Thursday, there are a record 1,472 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals across Ontario. Of those patients, 363 are being treated in intensive care.
The province has long said that when there are more than 300 COVID-19 patients in the ICU, medical care not related to the disease becomes nearly impossible to handle.
According to Anderson, the province will see more than 500 COVID-19 related patients in the ICU by Jan. 24 and over 1,700 hospitalizations.
“We need to work as a provincial system at a level never required before,” Anderson wrote.
“What we do together in the next few days and weeks will set the stage for our ability to meet escalating and anticipated hospital capacity demands.”