Province has not asked SAH to take extra patients

An ORNGE helicopter sits on a pad in southern Ontario May 1, 2020 ( Photo by Dan Gray/ )

A recent article about hospital overflow, as well as a report of more ORNGE aircraft in and out of the airport had some people asking, is Sault Area Hospital (SAH) taking patients from out of town?

The current answer to that question came from Brandy Sharp-Young, communications manager for SAH.

“Patients who may be transferred to SAH could be patients with COVID-19 or without COVID-19,” said Sharp-Young.

“At this time, SAH has not been approached to accept patients due to capacity challenges faced by other hospitals.”

The hospital has a 17 Intensive Care Unit designated beds, 13-bed intensive care unit and 4-bed step down unit. They are included in a plan every hospital has developed.

“All hospitals in the province have been asked to develop plans that will ensure there is capacity within our hospitals of 10 – 15% to address potential surges in patient volumes,” said Sharp-Young.

“Sault Area Hospital remains committed to the safety of our community, our patients, and our people, closely monitoring COVID-19 developments within our community and making decisions based on best practices.”

SAH will not confirm how many patients are currently in ICU, if any of them have COVID-19 or what the remaining capacity is.

PHU’s like the one in Thunder Bay do provide this information. One of our readers sent us to another tracking site which does provide this information for Sault Ste. Marie.

According to data provided by Joshua McNamara of ORNGE, our provincial air ambulance service, the numbers do not seem to be much higher than normal.

As of January 6, 2021 –

“There were 6 transports from SAH in Jan 2021 and less than 5 patients where SAH was the receiving hospital,” said McNamara in an email.

Compared to an average of about one patient in and one patient out per day in 2020 the numbers have not seen a dramatic increase.

The Ministry of Health has implemented an overflow plan in parts of southern Ontario which has seen some patients moved into hospitals like SickKids in Toronto.

We have reached out to the Ministry of Health for comment but have yet to receive confirmation SAH is not receiving patients from other parts of the province.