Toronto General Hospital under ‘critical care bed alert’, says intensive care units at full capacity


A Toronto hospital says it is under « critical care bed alert », with its three intensive care units all at full capacity due to a staff shortage.

Toronto General Hospital said in an email on Tuesday that its cardiovascular intensive care unit, cardiac intensive care unit and medical-surgical intensive care unit are at « full bed capacity » or have limited human resources. to keep all of their physical intensive care beds open safely and functioning.

“Due to multiple factors, including issues related to the ongoing pandemic, we are experiencing a staff shortage that necessitates this action,” said Gillian Howard, spokesperson for the University Health Network, which includes Toronto General Hospital, in the email.

Howard said that when the hospital is on intensive care bed alert, it triages patients who require specialized intensive care unit work and it works collaboratively to ensure patients receive the appropriate care they need. need.

The three intensive care units treat « different patient populations » who require intensive care, Howard said.

The alert comes after about 25 hospitals across Ontario were forced to curtail sections of their facilities over the long weekend due to staffing shortages, according to the Ontario Nurses Association. Ontario (ONA).

ONA President Cathryn Hoy said on Monday that over the weekend hospitals had to close units, reduce the number of beds or redirect patients to other locations. She called the situation a “disaster” and warned that the staffing shortages seen in hospitals across the province over the weekend will only get worse.

« It has to stop now. It really does. And the nurses come out every day, » Hoy said. « And if this continues and there is no sunshine or hope from the government, it will only get worse. »

Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones said the provincial government is looking to get more internationally educated nurses working in the province to ease staffing shortages. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

The alert also comes amid a growing chorus of opposition MPs calling on Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones to provide tangible solutions to what they say is a crisis facing the provincial health system.

Province working to resolve problem, minister says

Jones told The Canadian Press on Tuesday that the provincial government is looking to get more internationally educated nurses to work in the province to ease staffing shortages.

Jones said her role over the past few weeks has been to meet with organizations and individuals in the sector who have solutions and listen to their feedback.

The health minister said the work involves what the government has already been doing for four years, which includes increasing the number of workers in the system – she boasts more than 10,000 since the start of the pandemic.

She said the government would introduce « additional measures » to build capacity, and specifically mentioned a backlog of foreign-trained health workers awaiting certifications.

CBC Toronto had repeatedly contacted Jones for an interview regarding staffing shortages at Ontario hospitals. The requests were all denied.

Another aerial drone view of Toronto General Hospital taken on December 15, 2020. (Sue Reid/CBC)

NDP health critic France Gélinas said in a press release on Tuesday that Jones was not listening to patients and front-line health care workers.

« If Jones doesn’t find this mess unacceptable, how bad is she to let our healthcare system become? » asked Gelinas. « Certainly ill patients are moved. Long waits and hallway medicine are rampant. And some people will rush to the ER to find the doors locked. »

The NDP, health care unions and frontline health care workers have called on the government to repeal the law, known as Bill 124, which limits annual pay increases for nurses.

The Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, which was signed into law in 2019, caps wage increases for provincial employees, including nurses, at 1% per year, which is lower than the rate of inflation.



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