By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) is ready to receive patients from elsewhere in the province and deploy staff to neighbouring hospitals, according to its president and CEO.
On Thursday, Ontario Health requested that all hospitals across the province ramp down non-urgent and elective care procedures as provincial COVID-19 cases continue to rise along with hospitalizations.
“This is really being done specifically because of the current critical care capacity issues across the province,” said Lori Marshall.
The changes will come into effect Monday April 12, at 12:01a.m.
“We are well over 500 patients in critical care units across the province at this stage… And there is concern that we will not be able to respond as a province to those needs without dramatically making a change to care service.”
Noting that CKHA services are provincial assets, Marshall said it is CKHA’s responsibility to provide care to everyone.
“We will meet that responsibility if we are called upon to provide that.”
CKHA will be aiming to reduce its capacity to below 85 per cent. At this stage it will continue with day surgeries, ambulatory care, and diagnostic procedures. Emergency and urgent surgeries will continue regardless of where its occupancy stands.
Marshall said ares with a low-prevalence of COVID-19 were afforded more flexibility.
CKHA will continue with surgeries on Monday unless other regions require its assistance. Marshall added that any patient who has been cancelled for surgery will be notified by CKHA or the surgeons office.
Approximately 2,000 cases were backlogged last year when CKHA first ramped down its services, mainly from a hold on all elective surgical procedures as well as non-urgent or emergent diagnostics.
Marshall said CKHA is in the process of creating a survey to identify which staff would be interested in volunteering for redeployment if necessary.
The last time CKHA had to reduce its services was in January when its intensive care unit (ICU) was at capacity. Nine of its 10 ICU patients were on ventilators at the time. Only one case was related to COVID-19.
“I think that with what we are seeing provincially with the variants we need to be prepared for this to occur as well. And certainly it is my hope that Chatham-Kent can remain with low levels of COVID,” she said. “If it is happening everywhere else in the province it’s unlikely that it would not happen in Chatham-Kent as well.”
Currently there are four patients in the ICU and the progressive care unit.