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Ontario hospitals told to prepare to clear beds for COVID-19 patients

Last Updated Dec 16, 2020 at 9:37 am PST

Stock image of hospital beds. (iStock)

Ontario Hospital Association warns province's hospitals face risk of overwhelming conditions amid COVID-19 spike

Ontario hospital workers association has called meeting to determine how to deal with surge in cases in second wave

Hospitals across Ontario have reportedly been ordered to be ready to clear beds

The head of the association representing Ontario’s hospital workers warns the province’s hospitals face an “imminent risk of overwhelming conditions” as they brace for a spike in COVID-19 patients

The Ontario Hospital Association has called an emergency meeting of its board of directors for Wednesday, to determine how to cope with the surging second wave.

Provincial health officials on Tuesday reported 921 people hospitalized with the virus, with 249 being treated in the ICU. That’s more ICU patients than at any other point during the pandemic.

It’s a situation the OHA tells 680 NEWS risks getting more dire, if people gather in person over the holidays.

“In late December and into January, hospitals appear increasingly likely to face a wave of seriously ill COVID patients that will almost certainly disrupt other acute care services and operations,” said the OHA. “This is a far more serious situation than wave one given the need to maintain access to elective surgery.”

This comes as hospitals across the province have reportedly been ordered to be ready to clear beds.

Ontario Health has warned every hospital CEO in the province to prepare to activate their emergency plans within 48 hours if needed.

“As we are all aware, we have entered a more critical phase of the pandemic where we are seeing widespread community transmission. Our ability to care for patients (COVID and non-COVID alike) is being challenged, so we are asking hospitals to work together, even more, to ensure we can continue to have the bed capacity to care for patients, safely and effectively,” Ontario Health president and CEO Matthew Anderson’s memo to hospitals reads.

“With this in mind, I am requesting that, if you have not done so already, hospitals immediately begin working with their regional/sub-regional COVID-19 response structures, or incident management systems (IMS), to be prepared to and/or activate surge capacity planning within 48 hours to support efforts across your regions.”

That’ll mean hospitals in locked down Toronto, Peel and York Region, as well as those in red control zones, could have to make up to 15 per cent of their beds available for COVID patients.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott said the increasing pressure on Ontario’s hospitals is a result of community spread.

“We continue to closely monitor the evolving situation,” Alexandra Hilkene said in a statement, “and are committed to working with our partners to ensure there is capacity in hospitals across the province to provide care for any Ontarian requiring hospitalization.”