As ICUs reach critical levels in B.C.’s north, patients are being moved to other regions

Click to play video: 'Rising COVID-19 cases straining B.C.’s healthcare system'
Rising COVID-19 cases straining B.C.’s healthcare system
The number of COVID cases requiring hospitalization and Intensive Care is climbing, and that's putting increasing pressure on the healthcare system, particularly in B.C's north. Richard Zussman reports. – Sep 21, 2021

The situation in hospital intensive care units in B.C.’s Northern Health region is becoming so critical that patients are being moved to other parts of the province, health officials said Tuesday.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said so far, 12 patients from the Northern Health region, nine of whom have tested positive for COVID-19, have been transported to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

Click to play video: '‘We need to reduce pressure on the north’: B.C. health minister on transferring ICU patients'
‘We need to reduce pressure on the north’: B.C. health minister on transferring ICU patients

Dix said he knows it is difficult for patients and their families and loved ones, “but it’s a necessary step to alleviate pressure on the northern region.”

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He said 10 beds in the Lower Mainland and five beds on Vancouver Island, all in critical care, are being freed up for patients from Northern Health.

That will free up more beds for those in that health authority, Dix said.

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Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Worsening ICU situation in B.C. hospitals'
COVID-19: Worsening ICU situation in B.C. hospitals

Read more: B.C. records 1,692 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend as more admitted to hospital

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As a result of the strain on hospitals, Dix said they have also had to postpone 511 non-urgent surgeries recently.

Over the weekend, B.C. recorded 1,692 new cases of the virus.

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The number of people in hospitals and intensive care units also took a big leap.

Nine more people were admitted to hospitals for a total of 307 in the province. Of those people, 20 more were admitted to intensive care units, where there are now 156 people receiving critical care.

Of the 156 people in the ICU, 139 are unvaccinated and 35 are under 50 years old and unvaccinated. Ninety-nine patients in the ICU are on ventilators.

Hospitals in the Northern Health region continue to be an area of concern in the province as the case numbers keep going up.

On average, there are about 115 cases a day being recorded in that region, according to numbers provided by the province.

There are 20 patients in that region who are in the ICU, which is an increase of six in only one day.

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‘We stand ready to assist’: B.C. premier on providing COVID-19 support for Alberta

Read more: B.C. extends COVID-19 restrictions to Northern Health region as cases mount

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On Sept. 2, Henry implemented some new public health restrictions in the Northern Health region in an effort to stop the rising number of cases.

Those restrictions included:

  • Indoor personal gatherings will be limited to one other family or five people
  • Organized outdoor events over 200 people will need a COVID-19 safety plan in place
  • Personal outdoor gatherings, such as birthday parties or barbecues, will be limited to 50 people

Reporting on COVID cases in schools

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday that the province is changing the way COVID cases and exposures are being reported in schools.

She said they changed the way public exposure notices were issued as officials thought it was creating too much anxiety in the school communities.

However, after hearing from parents around B.C., they know “parents do need an authoritative source to go to have an understanding of what’s happening at their children’s schools,” Henry said.

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She added that by the end of the week, they will have a program in place to notify schools in a “timely, less intrusive and more sustainable way and that parents will have access to that information.

I do want to reassure you that… if your child has COVID, if your child has been exposed to somebody with it in the school system, you will be notified.”

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