Local News News Walkerton Herald-Times

Grey-Bruce hospitals support province-wide system to meet capacity challenges

GREY-BRUCE – With COVID-19 numbers continuing to rise, the provincial hospital system may exceed capacity in the coming weeks.

This is the case for both medical and critical care beds required for the remainder of January and into February right across Ontario.

Some hospitals in the province are already at or over capacity, and are actively working to create capacity to accommodate patient needs. Most hospitals are increasing bed numbers where staffing is available, and those hospitals already at capacity are attempting to free up capacity by moving patients to other hospitals.

In Grey-Bruce, the prevalence of COVID-19 remains relatively low compared to other parts of the province. And even though the capacity of the three hospital corporations in Grey Bruce is nearing capacity, our hospitals will be asked to play an active role in meeting the demand of patients across the province.

This means that all hospitals must be ready to accept patient transfers when directed by their regional or provincial COVID-19 response structure. It also means that hospitals may have to reduce or stop non-urgent surgeries and other procedures to ensure there are enough beds and capacity for those patients requiring hospital care.

In simple terms, every hospital bed is a provincial resource, and the Grey-Bruce hospitals fully support a single, seamless provincial hospital system that will accept patients from other hospitals, share resources and prioritize services so all hospitals can continue to provide safe, effective care to both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.

The movement of patients between hospitals is not new. However, the amount of movement between sites has the potential to be much larger than normal in the coming weeks.

For Grey-Bruce residents requiring hospital care, it means that you may be admitted to hospital that is not in your home community. And when transferred back from a larger hospital to continue your recovery, depending on capacity, you may be transferred to another hospital site that is not necessarily your home hospital. It also means that patients from outside of Grey-Bruce may be transferred into our region for hospital care.

“It is critical that the hospital system in Ontario functions as one seamless system during the pandemic to ensure that beds and emergency care are available for not only COVID patients, but also for patients presenting to hospital with heart attacks, stroke, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and many other issues,” said Michael Barrett, South Bruce Grey Health Centre CEO.

“Within SBGHC’s four hospital sites, five additional beds have been opened in Walkerton, and we are preparing to open additional beds in Durham and possibly Kincardine. We are currently working with London Health Sciences Centre and other regional hospitals to accept lower acuity patients to open up beds in those centres for more acutely ill patients,” said Dr. Lisa Roth, South Bruce Grey Health Centre chief of staff.

It is understood that you and your loved ones want to be cared for close to home, in hospitals you are familiar with and that you have supported, and every effort will be taken to ensure that happens. However, during these challenging times, a patient may be admitted to a hospital away from their home community.

Gary Sims, CEO of Grey Bruce Health Services, said, “We have a long history of working together with our health-care partners in Grey-Bruce and beyond, and during this pandemic, together we will do what is needed for local residents, and for the system of care that this province depends on. GBHS has added 28 beds to prepare for a surge in COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. These beds are in our medical/surgical department, our ICU, and for those patients waiting in hospital to transition to another level of care. We also have a field hospital (at the Bayshore) ready to be opened should the system pressures overwhelm hospital capacity.”

“Collaborating with and supporting our hospital partners across Grey-Bruce and beyond has always been fundamental in how HDH operates,” said Dana Howes, CEO of Hanover and District Hospital. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, this becomes even more important as we continue to support our local communities’ needs while ensuring sustainability for the Ontario health-care system as a whole. We thank our communities for their partnership, support and understanding during this time.”

Dr. Randy Montag, chief of staff at Hanover and District Hospital, added, “HDH is ready when called upon to open an additional four beds to support the patient care needs that come to us. We have ample supplies of personal protective equipment and the needed pharmaceuticals to support the anticipated increase in patients. Our physicians, nurses and all other team members have the tools, equipment and passion to provide exceptional care to whoever comes through our doors during this pandemic and beyond.”