The Hospital for Sick Children said it would suspend some surgeries in a bid to “preserve critical care capacity” amid a significant increase in patient numbers.
In a statement Released late Friday afternoon, the hospital said its intensive care unit count has been at least 127% above capacity for several days now, prompting the move.
The hospital said that from November 14 it would prioritize “urgent, urgent and most urgent surgeries” while canceling other scheduled procedures.
It’s unclear how many procedures could be affected by the change. The surgical backlog at SickKids had already almost doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, from 3,800 in March 2020 to around 5,600 last June.
“This decision was not taken lightly. Reducing surgical activity will allow us to support areas of the hospital that need help managing increased patient volume and acuity, including intensive care units, pediatric medicine and the emergency department,” SickKids President and CEO Dr. Ronald Cohn said in the statement. “I want to express my deepest gratitude to everyone at SickKids who goes above and beyond, doing their best, for patients and families, and each other, during this difficult time.”
Children’s hospitals in Ontario have reported a significant increase in the number of patients due to respiratory viruses so far this fall.
Last week, the Commanding Officer of the Ontario Critical Care COVID-19 Command Center urged hospital administrators to admit teenage intensive care patients to adult intensive care units in order to free up capacity.
The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa also opened a secondary intensive care unit this week using temporarily reassigned beds from its day surgery unit.
In its statement, SickKids said it has already increased the number of patients with “higher acuity” being treated outside of the ICU, but still faces capacity issues.
He said he was also increasingly unable to accept new patients from community partners who have also “reached capacity”.
“We now find ourselves virtually supporting our colleagues to care for pediatric patients who would otherwise receive care at SickKids,” the statement noted.
The news that SickKids will limit surgeries in an effort to preserve capacity comes just hours after Trillium Health Partners confirmed that pediatric patients were no longer being admitted to the Mississauga hospital.
Instead, a spokesperson said patients were being redirected to Credit Valley Hospital in an effort to maximize limited resources.
“By working together at one site, our clinical teams have been able to keep the same number of beds open to support children and families in need,” Keeley Rogers said in a statement provided to CP24. “We want to assure you that this has not diminished access to high quality care in our community and region. Our emergency department at the Mississauga hospital remains open for pediatric patients, and if an admission is necessary, arrangements will be made for transfer to CVH for care.
The latest data from Critical Care Services Ontario the daily census shows that there are 122 pediatric patients in intensive care, compared to 111 the day before.
Ontario has a total of 112 pediatric intensive care beds.
In a statement released earlier Friday, NDP Health Critic France Gélinas called on the Ford government to take action to deal with a “hospital crisis” that is “worsening day by day.” .
“The government must take urgent action to respond to distress signals from hospitals, especially children’s hospitals. We should address the staffing crisis, including tearing up Bill 124, promote COVID and flu vaccinations, and start respecting our healthcare professionals,” she said.