COVID-19: Niagara Health reports ICU capacity over 100% at St. Catharines hospital

Niagara Health put a pause on it's mandatory vaccination policy for staff in early January. The network said it was necessary to address staff shortages amid the recent Omicron variant wave pf the COVID-19 pandemic. Global News

Just days after making a plea to residents to follow public health guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the president and interim CEO of Niagara Health hospitals is now reporting its critical care capacity is in a “state of crisis.”

In a social media post on Tuesday afternoon, Lynn Guerriero said the intensive care unit (ICU) at the St. Catharines site is now at more than 100 per cent capacity.

Read more: ‘Hospitals are buckling’: Ontario’s science table makes urgent push for stronger COVID-19 measures

“We’ve opened additional critical care beds in other areas of the hospital but we have limited critical care-trained staff to further increase capacity,” Guerriero said.

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The hospital is reporting that its overall capacity for ICU patients is at 104 per cent as of Tuesday with 20 people infected with COVID-19 needing intensive care at the St. Catharines site.

Overall, the facility is treating 71 patients affected by the coronavirus.

On Friday, Niagara Health issued an open letter to the public asking for compliance to health guidelines calling for masking and physical distancing since its facilities were experiencing “unprecedented pressures.”

“Let’s remember the 379 people who contracted COVID-19 and died, along with their loved ones who are grieving these terrible losses,” the letter said.

The letter received endorsements from 70 community leaders including St. Catharines mayor Walter Sendzik, Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati and acting medical officer of health Dr. Mustafa Hirji.

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Hirji responded to Guerriero’s post on Tuesday night and said the vast majority of the ICU admissions in St Catharines were local residents and not from out of region transfers.

The last recorded indicators on ICUs from Niagara Region public health revealed that 81.3 per cent of all beds were occupied as of April 10, with 33.3 per cent of patients on ventilators.

Ontario reported a record 2,360 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday. There are an all-time high of 773 patients in ICUs, 537 of whom are on a ventilator.

Niagara Region reports over 140 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday

Niagara reported 144 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, and 1,849 active cases.

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The region hit its second-highest daily total of new cases, 220, on Thursday. Active cases also hit a reported pandemic high of 1,287 on April 15 and have not stopped growing in recent days.

Niagara last saw comparable numbers in both categories in early to mid-January.

Read more: Hamilton reports 40 new COVID-19 cases, data suggests city will reach third wave peak in weeks

As of Tuesday, 138,514 Niagara residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, representing about 26.9 per cent of the population.

About 95 per cent of residents aged 80 and over have received at least one shot, while around 64 per cent of people over 60 have received doses.

The region has had 384 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began in March 2020.

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