Hospitals across Ontario will begin to ramp down all elective, non-emergency surgeries beginning Monday. The instruction, given Friday, was to preserve critical care capacity because of the soaring numbers of COVID-19 in the third wave of the pandemic.
The numbers continue to surge, with Ontario recording more than 4,450 new cases Sunday, the highest single-day number since the pandemic began. Ontario’s seven-day average for case numbers is now close to 3,600, compared to just over 2,600 a week ago.
Critical care physicians are concerned, as hospital beds fill up rapidly. Nearly 600 people are in ICUs, with more than half of them on ventilators.
"We can move patients from Toronto to Kingston and beyond, but eventually we will run out of places to move patients because we won’t have enough trained staff to care for them in the beds that they need to go to," said Dr. Michael Warner, director of critical care at Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital.
Beginning Monday, elective surgeries are being canceled, but doctors fear that will also have dramatic consequences. Two more emergency orders designed to help increase critical care capacity take effect, as well.
Hospitals will be allowed to transfer patients to another hospital without obtaining their consent during major COVID-19 surge events, and Ontario Health and Home and Community Care Support Services organizations will have the authority to re-deploy healthcare professionals and other staff to hospitals where they are most needed because of the pandemic.