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Critical care doctor calling for out-of-province help to mitigate ICU surge in Ontario

Last Updated Apr 10, 2021 at 7:05 pm EDT

A critical care doctor at a Toronto hospital is calling on all levels of government to work together to bring healthcare workers to Ontario to help mitigate the surge in ICU patients.

According to the Ministry of Health, there are 1,524 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the province as of Saturday. Of those, an all-time high of 585 are currently in ICUs. The head of the Ontario Hospital Association says there were 77 new admissions alone on Friday.

Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, warns the current situation is going to get much worse unless immediate action is taken.

“We can open up SickKids to adult patients, we can move patients from Toronto to Kingston and beyond but eventually we will run out of places to move patients because we won’t have enough trained staff to care for them in the beds that they need to go to,” he said in a Twitter post on Saturday.

Warner says hospitals are on the brink of facing a triage situation and the provincial and federal governments need to work together and coordinate the transfer of healthcare worker resources from less affected provinces to those in need, such as Ontario.

“We need ICU nurses here, in the GTA, to care for the patients that are coming and the patients that we have already. Any type of jurisdictional barriers need to be taken down; Premiers need to work together,” he said.

“We need to get ahead of this, we need to anticipate this and provinces need to work together.”

The Ford government issued two new emergency orders Friday night to address the capacity crunch many hospitals are facing. They allow hospitals to transfer patients without their consent and redeploy home-care workers to hospitals during a surge. However, they do not address the specific concerns of bringing in healthcare workers from out-of-province.