Two hospitals in Ottawa are pushing some elective surgeries back as COVID-19 levels overwhelm their capacities.
The Queensway Carleton Hospital said in a statement posted to Twitter on Wednesday that non-urgent elective surgeries requiring admissions at the site will be postponed for four weeks.
In their place, the QCH will perform day surgeries not requiring patients to be admitted to the hospital.
“This was a difficult decision and we did not make it lightly,” the hospital wrote.
The postponements will be reviewed on a biweekly basis, QCH said, with the possibility to add or remove surgery as staffing and occupancy levels allow.
The Hôpital Montfort also said Wednesday it is postponing the same kinds of surgeries for a period of two weeks. In lieu of five to six non-urgent elective surgeries per day, the Montfort has been performing seven to 10 day surgeries.
The east-end hospital said in a statement to Global News that, since Tuesday, it has been shifting elective surgeries to align with the province’s request to keep capacities at 85 per cent to accommodate potential waves of COVID-19 patients.
The QCH said it is at 113 per cent capacity and the Montfort said it’s at 94 per cent capacity as of Wednesday.
The moves come as COVID-19 hospitalizations across Ottawa hit new highs.
Ottawa Public Health reported a jump of 13 new COVID-19 patients between Tuesday and Wednesday. There are now 69 people in hospital with COVID-19 locally, 20 of whom are in the intensive care unit.
Some 97 per cent of acute care beds in the city are currently occupied, OPH says, while 75 per cent of ICU beds are taken.
QCH says it has admitted 24 COVID-19 patients and 138 patients are on isolation procedures, marking an “all-time high” for the hospital.
“We know this sucks, we really do,” QCH said on Twitter.
“Please know we are working hard. We will return to normal surgical operations as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.”
Read more: Ottawa’s COVID-19 positivity rate hits 8.8%
A spokesperson with the Montfort says it’s working with its hospital partners in the region to prioritize oncology surgeries and other urgent cases while freeing up as much in-house capacity as possible to accommodate new COVID-19 patients.
“We are very aware that postponing surgery has a great impact on the quality of life of our patients. We apologize for this. We will do everything in our power to move as few surgeries as possible. The support of the public in respecting public health measures is crucial to allow us to quickly get back to normal,” the hospital statement read.
A spokesperson for The Ottawa Hospital told Global News on Wednesday that the institution is also experiencing “concerning increases in COVID-19 activity” with 43 coronavirus patients currently hospitalized.
That pressure has forced the hospital to reduce scheduled surgical activity and mitigate impacts to its emergency department operations, the spokesperson said.
She said ICU levels at The Ottawa Hospital are “manageable” but the institution has plans in place to increase capacity “if things change.”
A spokesperson with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario said Wednesday it has not yet had to postpone any surgeries.
The head of the Ontario Hospitals Association foretold last week that rising COVID-19 levels would force cancelled surgeries and other complications for the province’s health-care system.