Hospitals make big changes to deal with surging COVID-19 cases

·2 min read
Ambulances sit outside The Ottawa Hospital's Civic campus on April 13, 2021. The hospital has now entered Level 2 on its pandemic response scale as COVID-19 cases continue to surge. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)
Ambulances sit outside The Ottawa Hospital's Civic campus on April 13, 2021. The hospital has now entered Level 2 on its pandemic response scale as COVID-19 cases continue to surge. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)

The Ottawa Hospital alone could see 100 COVID-19 patients occupying its critical and acute care beds in the coming days, its president and CEO says.

Friday's comments from Cameron Love came on the same day the city passed the century mark for COVID-19 hospitalizations — the first time since the start of the pandemic — and one day after the hospital announced it was preparing to move to the second stage of its COVID-19 response plan.

That stage — the second of four levels — involves increasing bed capacity and redeploying staff from other units as non-emergency procedures and services are reduced.

Since the start of the pandemic, the hospital as only been at the first level, Love told CBC News.

"For the life of the pandemic ... we've kind of averaged somewhere around 15 to 20 total COVID patients at any one time in the hospital," he said.

"The reason it's moved to Level 2 is that over the last two weeks in particular, what we've seen is real significant increases."

The hospital's campuses averaged between 57 and 65 COVID-19 patients in total on Thursday and Friday, but current test positivity rates could mean that tally will hit 80 to 100 in the coming days, Love said.

Love said "time-sensitive cancer surgeries" would continue under Level 2, although Level 3 would lead to those surgeries being assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The hospital isn't close to deciding whether or not a patient gets critical care, something that would likely only happen if they were to reach Level 4, Love said.

Emergency surgeries will always continue as the hospital is the regional trauma centre, he added.

Seen here in 2016, Cameron Love, president and CEO of the Ottawa Hospital, says their backlog of surgeries will only increase due to the pressure caused by the third wave of COVID-19.
Seen here in 2016, Cameron Love, president and CEO of the Ottawa Hospital, says their backlog of surgeries will only increase due to the pressure caused by the third wave of COVID-19.(CBC)

Other hospitals deal with surge

The Queensway Carleton Hospital also announced Friday it had moved to the next stage in its "pandemic surge plan" and was scaling back certain medical procedures even further to prepare for the looming toll of increased COVID-19 patients.

As of Monday, the hospital will be reducing its operating rooms to only two — one for emergencies, another for cancer-related surgeries — so that staff could be redirected elsewhere, including to intensive care wards.

At the Montfort Hospital, president and CEO Dr. Bernard Leduc tweeted that Friday's 31 COVID-19 patients represented a new high, and that they were receiving ICU patients from the Toronto area.