Kingston hospitals forced to transfer patients due to high levels of COVID-19

Kingston Health Sciences Centre says it's transferring three patients to other hospitals due to the increased number of COVID-19 positive people requiring hospitalization. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Kingston has hit a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time, Kingston Health Sciences Centre will have to send local patients to other regions to receive care because of the increase in local COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization.

“At this point, we’ve obtained an order from Ontario Health to transfer three patients out of the ICU, to try to offload some of our capacity challenge,” said Dr. David Pichora, president and CEO of KHSC.

This past spring, Kingston hospitals began taking patients from other COVID hot-spots, hit hard during the third wave of the pandemic.

Between March 1 and May 19, almost 150 COVID patients were transferred to Kingston from outside the region.

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Now it’s Kingston in need of help. Hospitalizations have been rising steadily over the last few weeks, as case counts reach record highs.

As of Tuesday, the hospital organization was treating 29 COVID-positive patients, 11 of whom were in intensive care units. The region has also recorded an unprecedented 389 active cases on Tuesday.

News of the patient transfers comes a week after KHSC revealed that its ICUs were at 90 per cent capacity.

“We’re thankful that they’re there to help. We know what it’s like on both sides,” Pichora said “You know, even when we were bringing patients in in the spring, we were also moving patients out then, too. We transferred patients to Brockville and Quinte to create capacity for GTA patients.”

He says moving patients to health centres in Ottawa and Brockville will ensure the hospital can accept patients requiring emergency care.

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“We’re so full right now, we’re concerned on any given day about our ability to complete all of our scheduled cardiac surgeries, neuro-surgeries, hip and knee replacements, a whole variety of other procedures that are urgent and that people are waiting for,” Pichora said.

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The Kingston area’s positivity rate is now 135 per 100,000 residents, a record high.

Kingston’s case count per 100,000 surpasses Ottawa, which is sitting at 35.

This pushes Kingston even further into the red zone, which the region has been in for weeks.

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