Province to open some hospitals for non-urgent inpatient care as COVID-19 hospitalizations fall

By News staff

Signs that Ontario is slowly resuming normalcy from the COVID-19 pandemic continued to emerge on Thursday, with the province announcing that some hospitals can begin keeping patients who have undergone non-emergency surgeries overnight if required.

On May 19, the province lifted its halt on non-urgent surgeries and procedures that didn’t require inpatient resources. Now, with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations dropping, the province will allow inpatient care at hospitals that meet certain criteria.

“Over the past several weeks, we have continued to monitor new cases, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions and are encouraged to see that the recent downward trends have been sustained,” Ontario Health president and CEO, Matthew Anderson, said in a release.

“Although the number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals and ICUs in Ontario remains high, some hospitals now have the capacity to safely resume non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures to include those that require inpatient and critical care resources.”

Hospitals meeting the following criteria may resume all non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures, including those requiring inpatient and critical care resources:

  • The hospital is ready to accept patient transfers as directed by our incident management system (IMS) structures to support acute and critical care capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • There is a plan in place for how the hospital will incrementally create capacity for staffed adult inpatient beds to care for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.
  • HHR are available for urgent and emergent care and to support any required expanded critical care capacity. Innovative team-based approaches to HHR are encouraged to facilitate resumption of non-emergent and non-urgent care.
  • The hospital is committed to continued collaboration with regional structures to support a provincial approach to health system capacity.
  • Critical supplies sufficient to meet both current usage and projected requirements are available.
  • Diagnostic and supporting services required for resuming surgical and procedural services are available (e.g., diagnostic imaging, pathology, transfusion medicine laboratory or blood bank).

The province paused all non-emergency surgeries and procedures on April 20 when COVID-19 cases were soaring and the hospital system was dangerously strained.

A CityNews investigation revealed a startling backlog of breast cancer mammograms and surgeries of all types in the province.

The Ontario government has budgeted $300 million in 2021-2022 to help clear that backlog, part of a $600-million multi-year investment.

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