The city’s Children’s Hospital at the London Health Science Centre (LHSC) announced Tuesday morning that the health-care centre would be cancelling some surgeries as it continues to combat a rise in patients.
Officials said the “difficult decision was made” late last week.
The Children’s Hospital is now reporting occupancy levels at 115 per cent, exceeding rates recorded at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Daily visits to the ER are also 80 per cent higher than normal, with wait times averaging six to eight hours.
All but emergency surgeries are experiencing pushbacks as officials said that they’ve started informing children and their families about delays.
Last week, LHSC said more people have been arriving at the hospital with viruses due to the early arrival of cold and flu season.
“This is an extremely difficult decision and one that I wish we didn’t have to make,” said Nash Syed, president of Children’s Hospital. “The decision to reduce surgical activity is necessary to ensure our teams are able to meet critical care and emergency needs.
“To the parents and family members of paediatric patients, I want to assure you that our health care teams will do everything they can to reschedule surgeries in a timely manner.”
Dr. Ram Singh, director of the paediatric critical care unit and deputy chief of paediatrics at the Children Hospital, added that while the decision was made last week, the reason why hospital officials waited to inform the public has to do with the severity of it.
“We just don’t know whether we’re going to do it for two days, three days, or we may have to do in a sustained manner,” he said. “It became evident that it’s not going to go away in a hurry we are in it for a little bit longer haul.”
Singh said that surgery cancellations will last for at least a week, “but maybe longer depending on how things unfold.”
“If anything it’s been worse today than yesterday and, of course, yesterday was worse than the day before,” said Dr. Ram Singh, director of the paediatric critical care unit and deputy chief of paediatrics at the Children Hospital. “At this point of time, they’re not seeing any relief. Maybe things will get better in a few weeks, but right now, we are really not in good shape.”
Earlier this month, the hospital’s ER was seeing double its average patient volume of up to 200 people per day, having initially been built to accommodate approximately only 100 visits daily.
The Children’s Hospital said it’s been working to respond to the surge of patients by extending inpatient capacity by 117 per cent as well as increasing critical care capacity by 150 per cent with the support of the Ministry of Health, and establishing a virtual urgent care clinic among others.
Additionally, the hospital has also transferred some patients 14 years old and up to adult intensive care beds to preserve the little capacity in pediatric critical care units, following the approval from the province.
“While these strategies are helping to manage growing volumes and acuity pressures, further action is required to sustain hospital resources as our health care teams are faced with an influx of patients from the region, growing system pressures in the province, and continued health human resources challenges,” health officials wrote in a statement.
“Reducing surgical activity will allow health care teams to prioritize urgent and time-sensitive surgeries while managing the growing number of patients admitted to Critical Care units and inpatient areas.”
Prior to the announcement, LHSC started calling on Londoners to mask up in public places, saying it “supports the province’s recent masking recommendation.”
Occupancy rates for adults at LHSC stand north of 100 per cent at University and Victoria hospitals.
— with files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.