CHEO treating older teens again as hospital pressure 'stabilizing'

CHEO says the pressures of high patient demand have eased enough so the hospital can once again accepting older teenage patients. ( Félix Desroches/CBC - image credit)
CHEO says the pressures of high patient demand have eased enough so the hospital can once again accepting older teenage patients. ( Félix Desroches/CBC - image credit)

Eastern Ontario's children's hospital in Ottawa says it is treating patients who are 16 and 17 years old again about two months after it had to start directing them to adult hospitals to ease its patient burden.

In a Tuesday morning news release, CHEO said "pressures are now stabilizing" during an unprecedented surge of respiratory illnesses including COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

CHEO also responded to the high patient load by moving around resources to open a second emergency room and asking the Red Cross for staffing help.

"Over the last three months, the invaluable support of pediatric care providers, our community partners, and community and teaching hospitals has ensured CHEO remained able to provide the urgent and specialized care only available at CHEO — particularly for children under four years of age who needed help breathing," the hospital said in the release.

It also thanked the province, which gave it money in November to permanently add critical care beds, and the community.

The hospital said emergency care is still available at Ottawa-area hospitals that may be a closer option than CHEO. There are also options for families listed on the hospital website, which helps those trying to decide whether a health problem is an emergency, and the options include four respiratory clinics.

The flu season is generally considered to have peaked and Ottawa's other respiratory virus activity has been decreasing.

At the same time, Ottawa Public Health said last week there has been a concerning increase in COVID levels and other local hospitals say the recent pressure is by no means over.