“As the scientific community continues to determine the risks that Omicron poses globally, there’s one thing that every Ontarian can do now to protect themselves and others from variants of concern – and that’s getting vaccinated, if eligible to do so. Vaccines offer the highest level of protection against COVID-19 and those who are eligible and unvaccinated are truly playing a dangerous game by leaving themselves and others vulnerable to this evolving threat.
Thankfully, this past week, the COVID-19 vaccine was approved for children between the ages of 5-11 and almost 70,000 received their first dose across the province. A third dose is now available for those at highest risk and an announcement on broadening eligibility appears imminent.
The hospital sector is currently able to provide care to hospitalized patients with COVID-19 under relatively stable conditions. Acute care hospitals are operating at a 90 per cent bed occupancy rate and there are 144 adult patients and two paediatric patients with COVID-related critical illness in Ontario’s intensive care units (ICUs), as of November 28.
However, hospital capacity, in particular ICU capacity, is not something that the province can take for granted in a pandemic as case numbers can change with lightning speed. Hospitals in Sudbury, Algoma, Timiskaming and other parts of southwestern Ontario are experiencing unusual, heavy pressures due to large numbers of COVID-19 patients. Mitigating actions, including patient transfers in some instances, are being taken by these organizations to maintain access to care.
Hospitals are also facing growing capacity pressures due to challenges across the continuum of care. As of November 21, there were 5,200 patients waiting in Ontario hospitals for a more appropriate level of care (ALC), such as home and community care and long-term care. At the same time, there were 3,703 patients waiting in acute care, which is more than we’ve seen at any other time in the last 10 years. Given these pressures, it will be vital for hospitals, the Ministry of Health, Ontario Health and Chief Medical Officer of Health to monitor health system capacity closely and to also take decisive action when warranted.
While many questions exist with the arrival of the Omicron variant in Ontario, it is important to remain calm. We have been fighting COVID-19 for almost two years and know what it takes to keep our communities safe. Let’s continue to exercise caution and prudence by getting vaccinated and adhering to public health guidance, including wearing a mask, washing hands and maintaining a safe physical distance when necessary.” Anthony Dale, President and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association
SOURCE Ontario Hospital Association