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Code Orange: Guelph General calls on other hospitals for help as it reaches full capacity

Temporary measures put in place Wednesday included short-term ambulance diversion and cancelled non-urgent surgeries
20181204 Guelph General Hospital Sign KA
FILE PHOTO—Guelph General Hospital. Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday

Guelph General Hospital called an internal Code Orange Wednesday morning as the demand for services outweighed the hospital’s resources.

“It's quite rarely called,” said Marianne Walker, president and CEO of GGH. 

“When we get into that situation where we know that we cannot continue to take patients for admission, we need help from others.”

On Wednesday morning, the hospital found itself in a situation where it had 17 patients in the emergency department waiting for admission with only 20 spaces available while the rest of the hospital was full. 

To accommodate the growing number of patients, GGH reached out to their partner hospitals.

“Our partner hospitals like Groves Memorial, they're going to help us with some of the patients who actually live closer to that area. We’ll look at transferring some there. We're looking at potentially some very sick patients at our other colleague hospitals at Cambridge or Kitchener that can take some other patients,” said Walker. 

GGH also put a short-term ambulance diversion in place, which would allow any non-urgent case to travel to another location. It also cancelled non-urgent surgeries to open up space for patients that require medical admission. It is continuing urgent and emergency surgeries. 

“We do the check-ins every hour, and so they determine do we still need to do that. But clearly we want to say, patients who need emergency care, they need to come to emergency care and we have room to look after them,” said Walker.

She said the emergency was not a result of a COVID-19 outbreak as currently, the hospital only has two COVID-19 patients. She said the hospital has been noticing more complex and ill patients as of recently and the code orange will remain in effect till the hospital deems it necessary. 

“This is really about the increased volumes related to the growth of our community. Guelph is one of the fastest-growing communities in Ontario,” said Walker. 

“Many more patients who do come to our ED do require admission and what we're finding is that several of our patients also are requiring intensive care or step down care.”

She said the hospital has been in talks with the Ministry of Health to expand their number of beds and in the meantime, the staff at GGH have done an outstanding job stepping up in areas they are needed or could help. 

“It’s really bringing everyone together within our community and within our region to look at how we can ensure that our patients get the care that they require,” said Walker.