58 staff out at CKHA, ICU reaches full capacity

© Can Stock Photo / herraez

Officials with Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) have described the situation as “unsustainable” as the number of patients requiring critical care exceeds 100 per cent of capacity.

CKHA CEO Lori Marshall says the hospital is experiencing the most significant demand on services that it has seen throughout the entire pandemic.

“This is an unsustainable position for the hospital to sit in to provide general care to the community,” Marshall said during a media call Tuesday afternoon. “Our medical, surgical and critical care occupancy is exceeding 100 per cent.”

Officials said there are now 34 patients in the hospital with COVID-19. Nine out of 10 ICU beds are being occupied by patients with the virus.

“Six out of 12 level two progressive care units are COVID positive as well,” said Marshall. “A total of 15 beds out of 22 are occupied by individuals who are positive with COVID-19.”

According to CKHA Vice President of Clinical Programs and Operations Caen Suni, the hospital is in the process of arranging some transfers out of Chatham’s ICU. A total of two patients will be transferred to London.

Marshall said the transfers were a necessary decision, given the extreme number of patients in the hospital at this time.

“In order to maintain the situation, we are only doing urgent and emergency surgeries at this point in time to be able to have enough beds and staff to serve the community,” said Marshall.

Suni said the move to cease all non-emergency surgeries will impact an average of 175 surgeries and procedures a week. That means roughly 120 of those would be scheduled surgeries and the rest would be elected procedures.

However, he said this allows the hospital to redeploy qualified hospital workers to other areas of the hospital if necessary.

“We are experiencing high occupancy and we don’t expect that to be resolved anytime soon,” said Suni.

Updated data shows that 58 hospital staff members are currently off work after testing positive or from being exposed to the virus.

“We are seeing this in hospitals across Ontario and we continue to monitor it on an ongoing basis,” said Suni. “This redeployment is also an outcome of our strategy to fill the gaps as team members convalesce at home.”