All available pediatric hospital beds in Ontario occupied: provincial data

Click to play video: 'Pediatric ICUs across Ontario over capacity'
Pediatric ICUs across Ontario over capacity
WATCH: Pediatric ICUs across Ontario over capacity – Nov 10, 2022

The number of children requiring intensive care in Ontario’s hospitals has outpaced the available number of pediatric hospital beds, according to new data obtained by Global News, leading to new concerns ahead of respiratory virus season.

The data compiled by Critical Care Services Ontario (CCSO) recorded 122 patients who required a pediatric critical care bed on Nov. 9, at a time when Ontario has 112 pediatric ICU beds available province-wide, an occupancy rate of 108.9 per cent.

CCSO data shows there was a sudden surge of young patients who needed intensive care beginning Sunday Nov. 6 when roughly 20 per cent of beds were still available.

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Over the course of this week, 31 additional pediatric patients required critical care, pushing some hospitals over their capacity and sparking worries about the cause and consequences of a potentially triple-threat season of illness.

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On Wednesday, Ottawa-based Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) said the volume of patients forced the hospital to open a second intensive care unit to treat an “unprecedented” number of critically ill children.

The new ICU, paid for by the province, carries five additional beds that were temporarily reassigned from the hospital’s surgical day unit, while clinicians trained in critical care have been reassigned from other areas.

While the CCSO data doesn’t breakdown the reasons behind the increase in patient volumes, it notes that 5 children — just 4 per cent — have COVID-19.

The number of patients being treated in critical care units is also at its highest since the pandemic began in Mar. 2020, leaving doctors worried about the weeks ahead.

The medical director of the pediatric emergency department at Children’s Hospital at the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), a London, Ont.-based hospital network, says “most of us in the pediatric sector are bracing ourselves for an incredibly challenging winter.”

“This year is extremely difficult,” said Dr. Lim adding that he and his staff are seeing viruses circulate outside of when they’re usually expected to arrive.

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“Currently, we are seeing tremendous numbers of patients coming in with respiratory illnesses, whether its RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), influenza or COVID-19,” Lim said.

Global News has requested interviews with the Minister of Health and Ontario Health, but have not received a response.

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