Ontario’s hospitals have been told to “ramp down” on elective and non-emergency surgeries as COVID-19 cases surge across the province.
Matthew Anderson, the President and CEO of Ontario Health, said the decision was made in order to preserve critical care and human resource capacity.
The ramp down on non-urgent surgeries will take effect at 12:01 am on April 12, Anderson said in a memo sent to hospital CEOs and primary care providers on Thursday.
“Given increasing case counts and widespread community transmission across many parts of the province, we are facing mounting and extreme pressure on our critical care capacity,” Anderson said.
The measure will not apply to the Northern Ontario Health Region, although the region’s hospitals should prepare to make the same changes “in the near feature.”
As well, pediatric specialty hospitals are not currently being advised to ramp down any capacity.
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In response to the memo, Anthony Dale, the President and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), said that a “major redeployment” of staff and resources is needed to care for the “large wave” of COVID-19 patients that require hospitalization.
Currently, 1,492 people are hospitalized with the virus in Ontario. A total of 552 patients are in the ICU – the highest number the province has seen since the pandemic began.
“This situation is extraordinarily serious, and we ask for patience and support from the people of Ontario as hospitals grapple with this historic crisis,” Dale said on social media.
“Ensuring equitable access to critical care services is our paramount priority.”
On Friday, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) issued a statement in support of the province’s decision to halt non-emergency surgeries.
The OMA noted that the orders are an “unfortunate but necessary step” that will help reduce the virus’ death toll.
“I am sad that we have come to the point again where we have to delay care for patients who have been waiting too long already in order to try to ensure that no one dies because of a lack of acute care resources,” OMA President Dr. Samantha Hill said in a statement.
To date, Ontario has seen 378,339 COVID-19 cases and 7,512 virus-related deaths.