Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto reduces surgeries to preserve critical care

TORONTO — The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto says it is reducing surgeries to preserve its critical care capacity as it deals with a surge of intensive care cases.

The hospital says in a release that it has no choice as its ICU has been above 127 per cent capacity for several days.

It says it is treating some intensive care patients in other units and that well over half of the patients in the ICU, which includes cardiac ICU patients, are currently on a ventilator.

The hospital also says it is working very hard to help other hospitals in the province virtually to care for pediatric patients who would otherwise receive care at SickKids.

Children's hospitals across Ontario have been overwhelmed over the past month, largely due to influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, both of which have hit a month earlier than usual.

Dr. Ronald Cohn, president and CEO of the hospital, says despite the surgery reductions SickKids continues to provide an exceptional standard of care.

“This decision was not taken lightly," Cohn said Friday. "The reduction in surgical activity will allow us to support areas of the hospital that need help managing increasing patient volumes and acuity, including the critical care units, pediatric medicine and (the) Emergency Department."

Cohn said everyone at SickKids "is going above and beyond, doing the best they can, for patients and families, and for each other, during this difficult time."

Children and teens have been going to emergency departments in the province at a rate two-to-three times higher than usual this time of year, statistics from Acute Care Enhanced Surveillance, a real-time Ontario-wide system that monitors hospital registration records, show.

Earlier this week, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa opened a second ICU to deal with an “unprecedented major surge.”

It has cancelled non-urgent surgeries and redeployed staff to meet the demand. Similar situations are affecting the children's hospital in Hamilton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2022

The Canadian Press