Exponential Growth of COVID-19 Poses Major Risk to Hospitals' Ability to Care for Ontarians
Sep 28, 2020, 11:53 ET
OHA calls for Toronto, all GTA regions and Ottawa to return to Stage 2
TORONTO, Sept. 28, 2020 /CNW/ - "With Ontario reporting 700 new COVID-19 infections today, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) is calling on the Government of Ontario to immediately intensify public health measures in certain areas of the province, including Toronto, all regions of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Ottawa. A return to Stage 2, with restrictions on indoor dining and bars, places of worship, weddings, gyms, movie theatres, and other non-essential businesses, is needed now to keep schools open and prevent a further acceleration of infections.
Ontario hospitals have been the anchor of Ontario's pandemic response, opening assessment centres, conducting laboratory testing and deploying staff to assist in long-term care, but they are gravely concerned that the current rate of spread will mean that hospitals will be unable to fulfil these roles while delivering life-saving care. Without public health measures in place to limit opportunities for disease transmission, Ontario will soon see higher numbers of hospitalizations, admissions to intensive care units (ICUs), and more deaths.
We've seen in jurisdictions around the world how acute care capacity can be easily overwhelmed if the number of positive cases rises too sharply. While Canada's health care system has many strengths, our capacity is limited, and we can no longer retain a false sense of security and belief that this will not happen to us. At this rate, Ontario hospitals are facing a direct threat to their ability to continue delivering the highest quality of care to Ontarians.
Hospital occupancy levels are rising quickly in Ontario. A great deal of the stand-by capacity created at the onset of the pandemic last spring has already been filled. Currently, the acute care occupancy rate is 89 per cent with several hospitals hovering around the 100 per cent level. While the number of patients in Ontario hospitals waiting for an alternate level of care (ALC) dropped significantly in March and April 2020 as hospital beds were cleared, ALC cases rose significantly throughout May and June, reaching a historic high of more than 5,300. Moving forward, as long-term care homes appropriately try to limit the use of three- and four-bed rooms to safeguard residents, ALC rates will continue to climb quickly, jeopardizing elective surgeries from continuing for the duration of the pandemic.
Ontario hospitals understand that a return to Stage 2 comes at a serious cost to thousands of businesses and their employees, and we must do more than simply appreciate their sacrifices. Employers will require additional help from various levels of government. However, emerging evidence clearly illustrates that indoor settings like bars and restaurants have become significant drivers of rising COVID-19 cases. Moreover, keeping these settings open while restricting private gatherings sends a confusing message to the public. While changes to these establishments' operating hours may have a small impact on transmission, we cannot afford to wait and find out. In order to keep schools open, protect our province's most vulnerable, and conserve our health system's limited resources, stronger restrictions are needed now."
- Anthony Dale, President and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association
SOURCE Ontario Hospital Association
For further information: Amanda Philp, Director of Public Affairs, Ontario Hospital Association, at [email protected]
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