Editors’ note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Ontario had 500 new hospital admissions on Monday.. In fact, the county saw 21 new hospitalizations for a total of 500.
As the second wave of Coronavirus continues to spread across most of Canada, patients are starting to fill hospital beds and overwhelm the health care system, which is under stress.
Doctors warn that if this trend continues, healthcare workers will soon have to face a grim decision in the ICU – deciding who lives and who dies.
The burden on the healthcare system is not distributed evenly across Canada. Some cities and communities are particularly affected by the virus, such as Quebec and Manitoba.
For example, in Steinbach, Man. The local hospital is so overcrowded with COVID-19 cases that nurses are having to triage patients in their cars due to lack of space in the emergency department..
During the weekend, the head of the Public Health Department, Dr.. Theresa Tam warned that the emerging number of COIVD-19 cases means that the country’s hospitals may soon reach capacity..
« this mode . . . It puts pressure on local healthcare resources, « she said in a statement. « Hospitals are forced to make a difficult decision to cancel elective surgeries and procedures in parts of the country to administer them (increases).
Since the start of the epidemic, 18,304 patients from COVID-19 have been hospitalized and 3,724 admitted to intensive care units across the country, according to Health Canada..
Between October. 27th and November. In Figure 3, the number of hospital beds occupied by coronavirus patients increased to 1,114 from 952. The Canadian Department of Health reported that the number of intensive care beds rose to 235 from 228.
Although hospitalization rates have skyrocketed, with the number of new cases reaching an all-time high in recent weeks, the second wave remains less stressful on the healthcare system (so far). The number of people who have become ill enough to be hospitalized is significantly lower than in the spring.
This is because the demographics have changed with the Coronavirus. Data from the Canadian Ministry of Health shows that the age group with the largest number of cases is from 20 to 29 years old, followed by the age group from 30 to 39 years.. People between these ages make up a third of all cases overall, but only about 7. 6 percent of hospitalizations and only 0. 3 percent of deaths.
Currently, about 1,780 Canadians are hospitalized due to COVID-19, according to statistics by the provincial government. Earlier this year, there were as many as 3,000 at a time.
Regions with the highest hospitalization rates due to the emerging coronavirus in Canada include Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec..
The province is struggling with high numbers such as coronavirus cases – particularly in the Montreal area. Quebec recorded 1,218 new infections and 25 additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus on Monday.
According to recent data from the Institute of Health and Social Services of Quebec (INESSS), the province does not expect hospital over capacity over the next few weeks in November, particularly in Montreal..
According to documents from the county’s long-term care committee for COVID-19 released in early October, while the county has a lot of physical space prepared to handle the influx of patients, which includes many field hospitals ready to go, there isn’t one. To hire them.
Read more: Ontario hospitals, long-term care homes don’t have much room to scale up second wave, inquiry sessions
“The challenge is that long-term care homes, hospitals and home care are all facing a shortage of human resources at the moment, so it is not about the material capacity that we are concerned about right now,” Jillian Kernaghan, CEO of St.. Joseph Health Care in London, Ont. , He told the committee.
According to the province, as of last week, Alberta’s ICU beds designated for COVID-19 patients were 77 percent full, a number that has risen sharply in the past two weeks.
Alberta Health Services said Friday that they have « a robust and detailed plan to provide the additional and necessary capacity needed to increase the number of additional inpatients. ».
AHS said in an email: « Ensuring availability of capacity for COVID-19 patients may include limiting hospital admission and ICU admission by postponing scheduled surgery ». Postponing elective procedures would allow operating rooms and surgical recovery rooms to be used as an additional space for the ICU.
At the beginning of November, the county shared details of its plan to expand hospital capacity during the ongoing pandemic. Health officials say the number of critical care beds available in Manitoba could triple if an increase in COVID-19 cases pushes capacity limits..
The plan includes reallocating some of the spaces in the hospital for intensive care, bringing in students and retired staff to reinforce the ranks, and if necessary, securing space in large places, such as conference centers, and moving some hospital patients there..
The goal of flattening the coronavirus curve is to prevent hospitals and intensive care units from becoming overwhelmed. For example, in the spring, in New York City – when the virus spread to the city – hospitals used convention centers as a temporary family site and refrigerated trucks were used as morgues.. .
At the beginning of October, when COVID-19 cases began to rise again, the president of the Ontario Hospital Association said it was looking at establishing field hospitals, using hotel rooms for patients, and taking up space in long-term care in order to increase capacity..
But the health system consists of more than just space – bed and capacity – that is also conveyed by human resources such as health workers and support personnel..
Colin Furness, an epidemiologist in infection control and assistant professor at the University of Toronto, said counties might have extra beds on hand for the influx of coronavirus patients, but staff and ventilators might not be there..
Dr.. Anand Kumar, a Winnipeg Critical Care and Infectious Diseases physician, said that most hospitals in Canada will make sure they have three resources to help the flow of patients: equipment, physical space and staff..
« You have to get the staff, that’s the bottleneck. ». “You can double your capacity for some time, like having nurses work 16 hours a day or doctors 24 hours straight, but this is not sustainable.. You can only push people hard before they start to break.
He said the number of staff at Winnipeg hospitals is limited and Manitoba “is close to capacity.
This means that elective surgeries will be canceled, operating rooms will be converted into intensive care units, and patients who need monitoring (such as heart arrest patients) will not have the staff to help them recover..
Kumar cautions that once the hospital reaches its ICU capacity, healthcare workers will have to triage.
“We will have to start making difficult decisions about who gets accepted. Will it become the “first come, first served” rule, and basically, once the ICU is full, no one who comes next will have access to life support machines? Or will the count be based on, « Who is most likely to survive? » It’s too scary to think about and it might come soon. ».
French warned that if the virus continues to emerge unchecked in Canada, what happens will be very ‘foreseeable’..
« Look what happened in Italy and New York, and now what is happening in Texas, » Furness said.. The healthcare system will run out of space, doctors and nurses will start getting sick, and sick people will die in their beds.
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