Bluewater Health reviewing, cancelling surgeries on provincial orders to ease ICU pressure

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File Photo Bluewater Health,

The large increase in people in intensive care units across Ontario because of COVID-19 is being felt in Lambton.

Starting Monday, Bluewater Health is ramping down and postponing some surgical cases because of extreme pressure on critical care capacity across the province. This comes in response to direction from Ontario Health which is monitoring the ICUs in Toronto as they fill with people with COVID-19.

Provincial officials say COVID-19 related ICU admissions are already over the peak of wave two with 552 patients in ICU today, and ICU occupancy province wide has already surpassed 81 per cent. Modelling data predicts that this number will pass 600 within the next week.

In Ontario today, nearly 1,500 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, including 10 at Bluewater Health.

The Health Minister, Christine Elliott, says the province also plans to expand the ICU capacity in Ontario to 1,000 beds to deal with the surge of people needing care in the third wave. ICU doctors, in a letter penned on April 1, said while having more beds is important, the units also have to be staffed which is not as easy to do.

Bluewater Health officials say to deal with the pressure on ICU capcity, doctors are looking at each local surgery which has been scheduled to determine their urgency based on individual circumstances to determine if it should be deferred or cancelled.

Officials ask residents wait for a call from the hospital or their surgeon instead of calling to see if their surgery has been postponed adding surgeries will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

“We are deeply disappointed that the current situation requires hospitals to take these emergency measures to protect capacity for life-saving critical care,” says Mike Lapaine, President and CEO in a news release Friday.

“We understand the impact postponing surgeries has on patients, families and caregivers, and we want to assure patients that their health and well-being are our top priority. We’re committed to resuming all surgical care as soon as it is safe to do so and we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we implement these difficult and complex changes.”

On Friday, officials said Bluewater Health has capacity in its Intensive Care Unit and will increase critical care capacity, when it is needed.

It’s likely Bluewater Health will be receiving patients from other parts of the province. Friday night, the provincial government passed another order under the Emergency Act which allows hospitals to move patients to other parts of the province for care, without the patient’s consent. It also issued an order which allows hospitals to redeploy staff without staff consent to deal with the rising number of people in the ICUs across the province.