Health P.E.I. is reducing some non-urgent procedures and services at Charlottetown's Queen Elizabeth Hospital as the province grapples with its largest COVID-19 surge since the beginning of the pandemic.
The province announced the move "to ensure staff and bed capacity are available for people who may need life-saving care in the coming days," according to a written release Friday afternoon.
"Following several weeks of COVID-19 admissions, we are at a point where we need to make these reductions to be able to continue to care for the sick patients who need intensive care and to continue to offer surgeries and services to people who need them most," Health P.E.I. CEO Dr. Michael Gardam said in the release.
The news comes as 17 people remain in hospital on P.E.I. with COVID-19, including two patients in intensive care, according to Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison. That's up from one ICU patient on Thursday.
One other person in hospital has tested positive but COVID-19 wasn't the reason for admission.
The province also announced 215 new cases which are still under investigation and 417 recoveries. That brings the total number of active cases on the Island to 2,460, with 7,274 since the pandemic began. Over the last seven days there have been an average of 235 cases per day.
Current hospitalizations for COVID-19 on P.E.I.
A difficult decision
Over the next week, according to the release, Health P.E.I. will delay approximately 40 to 50 cataract surgeries and 14 of 92 other surgeries.
All patients whose procedures are rescheduled will be contacted directly. Health P.E.I. will reassess the reduction on at least a weekly basis and make changes as necessary to maintain ICU capacity.
"We appreciate that all health services and procedures are very important to the patients who are to receive them, and this decision will be difficult for them to hear," Gardam said.
"Health P.E.I. staff have done everything possible to avoid service disruptions, and we continue to only reschedule procedures where the reduction will help us maintain critical care and emergency services."
COVID-19 cases on P.E.I.
While case counts have begun to plateau, Gardam said, the peak in hospitalizations has not been reached.
The province has recorded a total of nine deaths related to COVID-19 in the past two weeks — the first fatalities on P.E.I. since the pandemic began. The province says an individual's death is determined to be related to COVID-19 if the attending physician believes COVID-19 is the cause of death or a contributing factor.