McMaster Childrens’ Hospital opens cold and flu clinic due to ‘immense strain’ in demand

McMaster Children's Hospital will launch Flu, COVID and Cold Clinic on Monday in efforts to ease the congestion in the emergency department. Global News

The president of McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) says a clinic set to open Monday in Hamilton is a preventative measure to fight infections that have contributed to a packed pediatric emergency department amid cold and flu season.

Bruce Squires says the Flu, COVID and Cold Clinic is an example of “implementing everything” the hospital can to ease the “immense pressure” it has recently seen. For example, as many as 200 kids checked into the emergency during October.

“It’s going to be located right at the hospital in one of our pediatric clinics where we’ll accept patients on a walk-in basis on evenings and weekends,” Squires told 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show.

“Really, this is for … what we call lower acuity children and youth who have cough, cold and sort of flu-like illnesses.”

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The clinic will be located on the main floor in the main lobby in the 2G Child & Youth Ambulatory clinics space and open to patients 17 and younger, Monday to Friday, from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Primary care partners in the community will make up the bulk of staffing which will include family doctors.

It comes off the heels of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s (SJHH) announcing a similar dedicated seven-day-a-week clinic at its West 5th Campus.

Pediatrics at MCH have been adjusting daily surgeries to fewer than five a week, down from the typical 15 operations or more, spurred on by a surge in viral illnesses and staffing pressure.

In addition to a bed shortage, demand at the facility has been exceeding its supply of infusion pumps, cribs and other equipment associated with general child care.

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As of Friday, the hospital reported 13 patients in 12 level three beds and 11 patients in level two ICUs beds — indicating a patient considered at high risk for an adverse outcome.

Squires says more beds promised to MCH by the province recently have already opened and are a pair of permanantely funded three level beds as well as four level two beds.

“The positive side, making these beds permanently funded really will equip this region better going forward to be able to care for children and youth,” he said.

“So this is a start to the resizing of the child youth health system.”

However, capacity as of Thursday surpassed the number of normal beds with overall occupancy at MCH at 140 per cent.

“So that represented an additional around 40 patients that we were caring for in the hospital,” Squires said.

“Many of those were in additional beds that we’ve opened on our medicine wards in addition to the critical care units.”

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