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Peterborough Regional Health Centre prepared to double critical care beds with ‘nonconventional spaces’

Click to play video 'Peterborough Regional Health Centre accepts 2 non-COVID patients from Scarborough' Peterborough Regional Health Centre accepts 2 non-COVID patients from Scarborough
WATCH: Peterborough Regional Health Centre is preparing for everything when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, including an increase in patients from outside the region. – Jan 11, 2021

As coronavirus cases continue to surge across the province, officials with Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) say it’s ready to expand into “nonconventional” spaces within the hospital should there be a need amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Right now, the hospital has 28 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and has identified 24 additional surge spaces.

“This is outside of the main ICU, but where we can add critical care beds, where required,” said Dr. Lynn Mikula, PRHC vice-president, chief medical executive and chief of staff.

READ MORE: COVID-19 deaths in Ontario’s 2nd wave to exceed 1st if contacts aren’t reduced, modelling suggests

That said, Dr. Mikula noted COVID-19 numbers at the hospital remain low with only 19 hospitalizations since March.

For the most part, the hospital has been at or below historical averages for ICU use during the pandemic.

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She also said the hospital is prepared to take over space at the Evinrude Centre in the event of an extreme surge.

“It would not be the most critically ill or accute patients. Those would stay within the hospital.”

She told reporters on a media teleconference on Tuesday, the hospital has two patients that were transferred to PRHC from Scarborough and that the hospital has been told to “prepare for more.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Ontario health official says worst-case scenario would see 40,000 cases a day by mid-February' Coronavirus: Ontario health official says worst-case scenario would see 40,000 cases a day by mid-February
Coronavirus: Ontario health official says worst-case scenario would see 40,000 cases a day by mid-February – Jan 12, 2021

“This is being done at the direction of the Ontario COVID-19 Critical Care Command Table. Where we’re at right now in the province, all hospitals have been told to stand ready to support hospitals that are facing overload in their ICU and building. We’re receiving transfers at the direction of that table,” Dr. Mikula said.

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“Those patients may be COVID-positive or they may not be. We’re going to take what they need us to take.”

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When asked by Global News Peterborough to define what more patients from the GTA would mean, Dr. Mikula answered the province has directed the hospital to “be ready at any time to surge up to 115 per cent of your critical care capacity.”

“The message we’re working on is just be prepared for more and be prepared for what we need to take.”

The hospital is also prepared to redirect staff from areas that would see services ramped down.

“These are lessons we’ve learned from the GTA hospitals that have faced significant COVID pressure.”

There are 31 ventilators available to the hospital.

“We know that additional ventilators can be accessed from the province as required.” Dr. Mikula said.

Dr. Mikula also noted the hospital is ready to receive and distribute the vaccine once it’s ready for this region.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: New COVID-19 outbreak declared at Fairhaven long-term care in Peterborough

Over in Lindsay, there are nine ICU beds at Ross Memorial Hospital (RMH).

“Since the end of December to Jan. 12, we have seven people admitted with COVID and that’s more than we saw during the all of the first wave,” said Kelly Isfan, RMH president and CEO. “So we do see an uptick and that is a big concern and certainly what we’re seeing across the province.”

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Isfan noted the hospital has added 12 medical beds and that there are 16 more that can be opened.

“Right now, we don’t have a plan to move into those non-traditional spaces, such as sunrooms and hallways and I’m glad to say that,” she said. “It’s going to take everyone doing their part to ensure we don’t have to do that.”

RMH hasn’t received any patient transfers from the GTA as of yet.

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Coronavirus: Ontario health official says projections show deaths could rise to between 50-100 deaths daily – Jan 12, 2021

“We’re ready to do so and from time-to-time we send patients to other hospitals too. It’s not unusual to do that. We might be asked to take COVID or non-COVID patients, should we need to. We’re ready but hopefully, we don’t have to do that,” Isfan said.

And at Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg, there are 10 ICU beds.

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“We have plans in place to ‘surge up’ – if required – but recognize that this would also require additional staff and physicians to support the patients in these beds, and this is expected to be a challenge,” stated NHH president & CEO Linda Davis.

“As a community hospital, NHH regularly transfers patients to larger centres when specialized care is required that we do not offer here in Northumberland and, likewise, we expect that we may also be called upon to accept patients transfers from other areas, if appropriate.”