Children's Hospital in London, Ont., cancels surgeries due to high occupancy

The Children's Hospital in London, Ont., has announced it's cancelling surgeries. (Dave Chidley - image credit)
The Children's Hospital in London, Ont., has announced it's cancelling surgeries. (Dave Chidley - image credit)

Children's Hospital in London, Ont. has announced it's cancelling surgeries because the occupancy level for inpatient beds has reached 115 per cent, greater than at any time during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hospital — a part of the London Health Sciences Centre — also reports daily visits to its emergency department are 80 per cent higher than normal, with wait times averaging six to eight hours.

"This is an extremely difficult decision and one that I wish we didn't have to make," said Nash Syed, president of Children's Hospital.

The decision to cancel surgeries is necessary to ensure the hospital's teams are able to meet critical care and emergency needs, he added.

The move comes about a week and a half after Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children said it would be cancelling surgeries to ensure it would be able to provide critical care amid a spike in respiratory infections.

Affected parents to be contacted

"To the parents and family members of pediatric patients [at the London hospital], I want to assure you that our health-care teams will do everything they can to reschedule surgeries in a timely manner," Syed said.

Administrative teams will be contacting families affected by the cancellations.

Children's Hospital says it has responded to the rising demand for care by extending inpatient capacity by 117 per cent and increasing critical care capacity by 150 per cent, with the support of the Ministry of Health.

It's also using clinic spaces to relieve pressure on the emergency department for lower acuity patients and is moving children over age 14 to the adult intensive-care until when appropriate and safe to do so.

While these strategies were helping to manage growing patient volumes, further action was required to sustain hospital resources, which led to the decision to cancel all but emergency surgeries, the hospital said.

"Although this is a very challenging time, we want to thank the community for their continued support and understanding."