CKHA to soon function at 85% capacity 

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Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative

The Chatham Kent Health Alliance (CKHA), under provincial direction, will soon be ramping up elective procedures.

In March, CKHA had to scale down its non-emergency surgeries to create extra capacity at the hospitals in case of a COVID-19 patient surge.

Only urgent procedures, where there was a significant detrimental impact to not proceeding with a surgery on a patient, and emergency procedures, such as an individual falling and breaking his or her hip, were performed.

The CKHA hospitals, which were previously functioning at 100-per-cent capacity will function at 85-per-cent capacity as part of a “new normal,” said Lori Marshall, president and CEO.

“What we will do as we ramp up, and as we get guidance from the province, is we will work with our physicians and look at the various waitlists that are out there, the different kinds of issues, and we’ll bring them together with our leadership team,” she said.

Marshall said two groups that will be at that table would include patient and family advisors who can help CKHA work through impacts to patients, and families. They will also be working with an ethicist to help with an ethical decision-making framework around how CKHA can move toward the expansion.

Marshall said it is too early to know the effects the pandemic had on the budget.

“What we do know is that regardless whether or not we’re doing surgery, we are still fully staffing the hospital in order to be able to provide the care and services that are necessary. So I would say that our staffing numbers and expenses have not changed at all. Hospitals are very much people-driven in their costs, probably 80 per cent of our costs in a hospital are to pay the staff.”

However, there has been a rise in additional expenditures in areas such as capital equipment, like ventilators, new sterilization methods, and beds, as well as personal protective equipment.

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