Grey, Bruce hospitals ready to support overwhelmed ICUs in neighbouring regions

Hospitals in Grey and Bruce counties are ready to help support ICUs in neighbouring regions by potentially taking in ICU patients that need beds as a result of capacity challenges due to COVID-19.

In a release on Tuesday, officials from Grey-Bruce Health Services, Hanover and District Hospital and the South Bruce Grey Health Centre say they will help take patients in overcrowded ICUs from neighbouring regions if the need arises.

“It is critical that the hospital system in Ontario functions as one seamless system during the pandemic to ensure that beds and emergency care are available for not only COVID+ patients, but also for patients presenting to hospital with heart attacks, stroke, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and many other issues,” said Michael Barrett, South Bruce Grey Health Centre President and CEO.

“Within SBGHC’s four hospital sites, five additional beds have been opened in Walkerton, and we are preparing to open additional beds in Durham and possibly Kincardine. We are currently working with London Health Sciences Centre and other regional hospitals to accept lower acuity patients to open up beds in those centres for more acutely ill patients,” said Dr. Lisa Roth, South Bruce Grey Health Centre Chief of Staff.

Current provincial modelling shows that the number of both medicine and critical care beds required in the near future may exceed the bed capacity of all hospitals across the province due to COVID-19. Some hospitals are already at capacity, and given the relatively low numbers in Grey and Bruce and even as ICU capacity in local hospitals near capacity, hospitals will be asked to play an active role in meeting the demand of patients across the province.

That means hospitals in Grey and Bruce must be ready to potentially accept ICU patients from neighbouring regions if it is deemed necessary by their regional or provincial COVID-19 response structure and health officials. It may also mean in that event that local hospitals may have to cancel or reduce non-urgent surgeries and other procedures to ensure beds are available.

“We have a long history of working together with our healthcare partners in Grey Bruce and beyond, and during this pandemic, together we will do what is needed for local residents, and for the system of care that this province depends on,” said Gary Sims, President and CEO of Grey Bruce Health Services. “GBHS has added 28 additional beds to prepare for a surge in COVID-19 and non COVID-19 patients. These beds are in our medical/surgical department, our ICU, and for those patients waiting in hospital to transition to another level of care. We also have a field hospital ready to be opened should the system pressures overwhelm hospital capacity.”

“HDH is ready when called upon to open an additional four (4) beds to support the patient care needs that come to us,” says Dr. Randy Montag, Chief of Staff at Hanover & District Hospital. “We have ample supplies of personal protective equipment and the needed pharmaceuticals to support the anticipated increase in patients. Our physicians, nurses and all other team members have the tools, equipment and passion to provide exceptional care to whoever comes through our doors during this pandemic and beyond.”