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Hospitals prepare for the second wave increase in COVID-19 cases

Last Updated Oct 29, 2020 at 12:47 pm EST

Inside the ICU at Humber River Hospital as front line workers continue the fight against the virus

It was another long night in Humber River Hospital’s intensive care unit. Doctors and nurses, head-to-toe in extensive personal protective equipment (PPE), had been closely watching over another new COVID-19 patient for hours.

The 45-year-old man, otherwise healthy, walked into the hospital with difficulty breathing Monday evening. By morning, he was sedated, intubated and connected to a ventilator for oxygen.

“A lot of patients don’t deteriorate this fast,” said the hospital’s ICU director, Dr. Sanjay Manocha. “We’ve seen the whole spectrum but the fact that there’s a significant deterioration within hours is quite concerning.”

It’s now one of hundreds of different stories told from the front lines as the fight against COVID-19 continues.

While the hospitalization numbers aren’t as bad as they were in the spring, as of October 27, there were 312 COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals, the highest number since mid-June.

“The worry is, in the coming weeks, that could have a significant impact on capacity in the hospital, the emergency department and, in fact, our ICU as well,” Manocha said.

The number of ICU beds now occupied in Toronto hospitals climbed to 79 per cent on Wednesday while acute care beds hovered just below the 90 per cent target mark.

The Ontario government announced $116.5 million in funding for more new hospital beds earlier this week, in an effort to combat the capacity issues that are expected.

Heather Jordan tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago and is now recovering just a couple floors up from the ICU. At that time, she could hardly move and needed oxygen for days.

“My body was aching all over like a truck hit me,” Jordan said. “I still feel a little bit of the symptoms but not like it was when I first came here.”

She’s lost 10 pounds and is still having problems eating, despite being watched over by a team of doctors and nurses, who are anticipating more patients with a variety of symptoms.

“It’s going to be a stretch,” Manocha said. “But we have contingency plans to accommodate these patients and we’re preparing.”