COVID-19: Ottawa’s Queensway Carleton Hospital further ramping down surgeries

The Queensway Carleton Hospital will drop down to two operating rooms starting Monday, April 19 amid the COVID-19 pandemic's third wave. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

The Queensway Carleton Hospital in Ottawa’s west end is further ramping down non-urgent surgeries and other services to free up additional staff as it braces for a growing surge of COVID-19 patients.

The hospital said Friday afternoon via Twitter that it’s moving to the “next stage” of its surge plan. Starting Monday, it will reduce its number of operating rooms to two, one for cancer patients and the other for emergency surgeries.

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The QCH said it has also ramped down endoscopy and ambulatory care clinics.

Staff, including nurses and respiratory therapists, will be shifted from these areas to intensive care and emergency clinics, as well as vaccination efforts.

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The west-end hospital was one of the first in Ottawa to announce plans last week to postpone non-urgent, elective surgeries requiring hospital admission and instead shift to day surgeries.

Hospital staff expressed the weight of these decisions in a Twitter thread on Friday.

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“This is not an easy decision to make. We know this is frustrating for all the patients this decision impacts. Please know we are not making these difficult decisions lightly & will let you know when your appointments are able to be rescheduled as soon as it is safe to do so,” QCH said.

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Ottawa Public Health said in its latest report that there are now 104 COVID-19 patients in hospital — a new high locally — 33 of whom are in the intensive care unit. There are 30 COVID-19 patients at the QCH alone, 12 in the ICU.

Bernard Leduc, the president of Montfort Hospital in the east end, said on Twitter Friday that his facility has admitted 31 COVID-19 patients and is taking more people into its ICU from Toronto.

Those numbers are only expected to rise, according to projections from health officials.

Dr. Brent Moloughney, Ottawa’s deputy medical officer of health, said Wednesday that because hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, a significant portion of the hundreds of people who have tested positive for the virus in the nation’s capital over the past week will end up with worsening symptoms requiring hospital care in the days to come.

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The Ottawa Hospital said Thursday that it is preparing surge plans to accommodate up to 220 COVID-19 patients if the situation worsens, while the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario announced earlier this week it will take adult patients from other overwhelmed facilities in the city if need be.

The QCH closed its Twitter thread Friday by reiterating its confidence that the city will get through this worst wave of the pandemic but urged residents to follow public health advice and stay home whenever possible to limit the spread of COVID-19.

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