Ontario’s top doctor issues directive on patient transfers amid record hospitalizations

Rising COVID-19 hospitalizations have prompted Ontario’s top doctors to issue a directive to support congested hospitals, integrating patient transfer across the province’s health system.

dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued Guideline 2.1 on Friday to guide hospitals in moving patients from one facility to another.

According to the directive, hospitals should “transfer or support the transfer of patients, as appropriate, to other hospitals that have the capacity to treat patients, in order to maximize the capacity of the hospital system to provide and maintain care to the largest possible number of patients.” patients.”

“Hospital care providers will participate in any system coordination and reporting processes that may be established by Ontario Health with the aim of optimizing Ontario’s hospital system to provide quality services to the largest number of patients,” the guideline read.

Hospitals in Ontario are relying on patient transfer as a way to ease the pressure caused by COVID-19 during the pandemic.

During the third wave, provincial officials issued emergency ordinances that gave hospitals the power to transfer patients to another hospital without their consent. It was withdrawn in June 2021.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that the directive requires patient consent for a transfer.

The directive supplements the order issued earlier this month that suspended all non-emergency and non-emergency surgeries and procedures in hospitals and clinics to free up thousands of beds.

As of Friday, there are 3,814 people with COVID-19 in hospitals in Ontario. Of these, 527 adults are in intensive care

dr. Martin Betts, the head of intensive care at Scarborough Health Network, said the Omicron wave is evolving differently from previous pandemic waves. He noted that they are seeing the highest number of COVID-19 patients ever in Scarborough.

“We’re seeing about one in ten hospitalized patients come to the ICU. During the delta wave, that was maybe one in three, and during previous waves, one in four, one in five,” Betts said. “So the pressure on the ICU is certainly great. But in our hospital wards it is even greater. Hospitals are going to take really unprecedented steps to accommodate patients, both in terms of funding the space to do that. the staff like we’ve heard so much about it.”

Betts said they plan to open a satellite facility in the coming days to accommodate the number of patients.

dr. Fahad Razak, an internist at St. Michael’s Hospital and a member of the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, said he has never seen health care resources become so depleted as doctors, nurses and other health professionals become infected with the virus.

“I haven’t seen that happen in any other phase of the pandemic, so this is really a very unusual time. And that makes it doubly difficult when you see these spikes,” Razak said.

Moore said Thursday that the number of hospitalizations in the province could peak next week. However, a doctor in Toronto said the province is still a long way from it.

“We’re seeing more COVID patients every day,” said UHN infectious disease specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy Friday morning. “We’re talking about opening more COVID units in our hospital and I’m hearing the same from other hospitals in the GTA.”

With files from Chris Herhalt of CP24

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