As Ontario’s COVID case numbers rise, hospitals with lower occupancy are being asked to take in COVID positive patients from other regions, including Guelph General Hospital.
“We have been requested to take one patient today from the GTA, but I don’t believe the patient has arrived yet,” says Michelle Bott, the senior director of patient services at Guelph General.
To help manage volume challenges in regions like the GTA and the areas around Windsor, the provincial government is reaching out to hospitals in different cities with space to provide ISU care for patients in need. Information to determine which hospitals to ask is obtained from occupancy reports, which are sent four times a day from different facilities.
“They know which hospitals to reach out to based on the occupancy of people in their beds,” Bott explains about the process.
Down the road, Grand River Hospital in Kitchener has already accepted three COVID patient transfers from the GTA.
Currently, Guelph General has five patients with COVID symptoms, but Bott says that not all these patients are in ICU care.
“Patients don’t tend to stay in ICU for a long period of time,” she explains, “Over the course of the day, we expand and contract regularly our ICU beds based on patients needs.”
The hospital has two ICU units, called Level 2 ICU and a Level 3 ICU. The first unit mentioned has 13 beds while the second unit mentioned has 10 beds.
For COVID patients within Guelph General, Bott says patients would stay in the Level 3 ICU. In addition to the 10 beds in that unit, Bott mentions they have the flexibility to create two more beds, if needed.
“Our ICU has been fluctuating between, I would say, 90 per cent and as high as 120 per cent capacity, on and off, this past week,” says Bott, “We do internally have a process called Critical Care Process, for moderate surge, and that process has been in place long before COVID.”
In the past, Bott says the ICU becomes busier over the winter due to more people developing respiratory diseases.
“I am not seeing anything that is concerning to me,” she says about the concerns over the hospital's ICU space, “We’re very well connected with the intensive care units in Cambridge, as well as the two hospitals in Kitchener.”
If Guelph General reaches a point where all beds, including surge beds, are occupied, Bott mentions the hospital could contact other facilities for assistance.
“We’re certainly not in that position at this time, no." she says, "We still have our surge beds available.”