TORONTO — The president of the Ontario Hospital Association says the province could face a new surge in patient transfers and cancelled surgeries as it deals with the third wave of COVID-19 in the weeks ahead.
Anthony Dale says if the trend of increasing patient numbers arriving in the province’s hospitals continues, it will further strain capacity.
Dale says that will lead to patient transfers running “24-7” to ensure they receive life-saving care and additional cancelled surgeries will be added to the current backlog of 250,000 procedures.
He says intensive care units across Ontario are seeing younger patients, with more severe cases of COVID-19, which is straining the system.
Ontario reported Monday that 409 patients with COVID-19 are in hospital ICUs, with nearly half the patients in the region around Toronto on ventilators.
Dale warned that the pandemic is not over, despite more widespread availability of vaccines, and stressed that people must follow public health measures.
“I am very concerned about the breakdown in social cohesion and the understanding of the risk and the sacrifice that is still needed to get us all through this safely together and without unnecessary death and harm and further massive disruption to hospital care,” he said.
On Monday, Ornge Air Ambulance said between Jan. 1 and March 25, at least 601 patients have been transferred by it or local paramedic services to help address the pandemic capacity crunch in hospitals.
Dale says patient transfers have picked up in recent days, citing the example of hospitals in Scarborough where patients are being transported to Kingston, Ont., for critical care.
“Hospitals will move heaven and earth … but it’s all making a terrible situation worse,” he said. “That’s what I see over the coming weeks.”