CKHA helps neighbouring hospitals

CK health care tributes. Via CKHA.

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) is once again cancelling elective and non-urgent surgeries but not because patients are being transferred from outside the area.

CKHA CEO Lori Marshall told reporters during a teleconference on Tuesday afternoon that elective and non-urgent surgical procedures will be cancelled as of Thursday because of rising critical care needs. Patients impacted by these cancellations will be contacted directly by their Surgeon’s Office. She admits the two issues are coincidental but assures the public they are separate.

Marshall also said emergency and urgent surgeries, such as cancer surgery, will continue and no other hospital services are being cancelled or modified right now. Marshall said the operating and recovery room staff who are trained on ventilators will be helping with critical care because she expects critical care needs to grow and COVID-19 cases to rise. She added redeploying those staff will also open an additional four critical care beds.

Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) is transferring five patients to CKHA on Tuesday and five more on Wednesday because it is bursting at the seams because of COVID-19 patients.

Marshall said to the best of her knowledge none of the transferred patients have COVID-19. The 10 transfers from WRH are on top of the 12 transferred from Erie Shores Healthcare in Leamington beginning New Year’s Eve because of its own capacity constraints. Marshall said the 20 extra regional beds allocated by the province in mid-2020 are being used and she is open to more transferred patients depending on capacity at CKHA.

“We’ve committed to these two days in terms of the transfers and we know that things can change very quickly,” said Marshall.

Marshall said the Critical Care, Intensive Care, and Progressive Care Units are at 100 per cent occupancy and nine of the 10 beds in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) are filled with patients on ventilators. She added only one of the ICU patients is COVID-19 positive and none of the transfers from out of town are critical care patients.

According to Marshall, four of the five COVID-19 patients currently at CKHA are from Chatham-Kent. She added the overall occupancy at CKHA without factoring in the regional beds is at 93 per cent and she hopes it stays that way.

She still hopes the field hospital doesn’t need to be used but it’s available if needed. Marshall said the surgery cancellations are likely to continue throughout the coming weeks until there’s a decline in patients requiring critical care beds.

“I do think the next few weeks and perhaps months may be quite difficult from a hospital capacity perspective,” Marshall said.

Marshall also announced on Tuesday afternoon that the freezer for the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines has arrived even though the vaccines themselves have not. According to Marshall, the most vulnerable individuals will get them first when they arrive. She said when that happens, it will signal the beginning of the light at the end of the tunnel.