A Toronto hospital has reached its intensive care capacity as health-care institutions in Ontario continue to struggle with high patient volumes and staffing issues.
The alert means the hospital’s three intensive care units are “at their total bed capacity and/or have limited human resources to safely keep all physical critical care beds open and in operation,” Howard explained.
She specified that a staffing shortage — brought on by factors including the COVID-19 pandemic — had caused the alert to be issued.
UHN is currently recruiting to fill 371 register nursing vacancies, both for full-time and part-time positions.
“You should also be aware that there are a variety of roles within nursing so some of these roles require specific skills and experience,” Howard said.
The number of vacancies equates to almost 10 per cent of the roughly 4,000 nursing positions at UHN.
Howard said pre-planned vacations and COVID-19 illness among staff were contributing to stretched staffing resources.
Ontario Minister of Health Sylvia Jones said Tuesday she is working to accredit more foreign-trained nurses to work in the province’s burdened hospitals.
“The plan is what we have, frankly, been doing for the last four years, (putting) historic investments into making sure that we have sufficient health-care workers to cover those shifts,” Jones said.
Jones touted more than 10,000 health-care workers added since the start of the pandemic. That includes 7,000 nurses and 2,400 personal support workers, a spokesman said.
“When under critical care bed alert we actively triage patients that require specialized ICU care,” Howard said.
— with files from The Canadian Press