Toronto hospital under critical care bed alert due to staffing shortages

The University Health Network (UHN) says Toronto General Hospital’s three intensive care units are at or near capacity as the healthcare system struggles to keep up with demand.

In an email to CP24 on Tuesday, a UHN spokesperson confirmed that Toronto General Hospital is the subject of an “intensive care bed alert” affecting its medical-surgical, coronary intensive care units and cardiovascular.

“This means that our 3 intensive care units – CVICU, CICU and MSICU – are at full bed capacity and/or have limited human resources to safely keep all physical intensive care beds open and operational,” Gates -UHN spokesperson Rosa Kim said.

« Due to multiple factors, including issues related to the ongoing pandemic, we are experiencing a staffing shortage that necessitates this action. »

Under the alert, Kim said, the hospital was actively triaging patients needing specialist intensive care and working in conjunction with Criticall – a ministry-funded organization that helps ensure patients across the province can access care. urgent and emergent – ​​to ensure that patients « receive the most appropriate care. »

An August 1 report from Critical Care Services Ontario obtained by CP24 indicates that Toronto General’s intensive care beds were 59% occupied on Monday. While the report said there were 50 intensive care beds physically available, the hospital’s ability to use those beds for treatment is limited by the availability of nurses and doctors to care for those patients.

Only three of the 73 intensive care beds occupied at the hospital on Monday were being used for patients with severe COVID-19 illness, the report showed, indicating that a sudden spike in COVID-19 infections could easily worsen the already precarious situation.

The critical care bed alert at one of Toronto’s busiest hospitals comes as Ontario’s healthcare system struggles to keep up with demand.

Health Minister Sylvia Jones told CP24 on Tuesday that she was working with health system stakeholders to try to address staffing shortages and other issues hampering care.

But emergency and critical care workers across the province say the situation is getting desperate.

Dr. Raghu Venugopal, an emergency physician who works at three hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area, told CP24 the strain on the system is obvious to anyone seeking treatment.

« The most important answer isn’t what I say, it’s how patients and families feel, » Venugopal said. “When patients wait hours with a large dislocation to reduce, when patients wait hours in a chair for a fracture to be put in place, when seniors wait three to four days on a stretcher to be admitted to hospital , when my patient is currently on day four of his stay on a stretcher in the emergency room for trauma — when those are the real situations in this province today, what do you think Ontarians would say to the minister if we asking them ‘Do you feel well taken care of?’”

Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario president Claudette Holloway called the situation « catastrophic and dangerous » in another interview with CP24 on Tuesday.

“I didn’t see it that badly, but we know that over the years there has been a shortage of nurses in Ontario, especially registered nurses. Our quota was lower than other provinces,” Holloway said. « So this is certainly a dire and dangerous situation that requires drastic responses from our politicians. »

She said she and other healthcare workers are « ready to sit at the table » to discuss long-term recruitment and retention strategies for the province.


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