COVID-19: KHSC working to increase bed capacity, anticipating more Omicron hospitalizations – Kingston

Some operations and services are being scaled down at the Kingston Health Sciences Center (KHSC).

According to hospital officials, the aim is to ensure that sufficient hospital capacity is available for COVID patients and that the effects of the Omicron variant on staffing are taken into account.

“The province is very concerned, I can tell you that they are very concerned,” says Dr. David Pichora, President and CEO of KHSC.

This concern has led to school and shop closings, as well as capacity and collection restrictions, to slow the pace of the spread of the Omicron variant.

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Dr. Doris Grinspun, director of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO), says these measures should have happened sooner.

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“Step two should have happened on December 10th if we wanted to (spread) the virus transmission more,” says Grinspun.

Hospitals across the province, including KHSC, are reducing non-urgent surgical activities to maintain bed capacity and staff that have been severely impacted by Omicron.

“Our teams are tired,” says Pichora. “It’s been a long two years and, like in many other places, we’ve had retirements and other departures lately, partly as a result of the pandemic.”

According to Picora, around 70 to 80 employees are unable to work due to COVID reasons.

Dr. Gerald Evans says the province could face increasing COVID-19 cases for another two to four weeks with a view to modeling.

But locally the region can be a bit ahead because this is where Omicron met first.

“I think we are starting to show some – what looks like encouraging, let me just say – information that suggests we may have already climaxed,” says Dr. Evans.

But there is a delay between case reductions and hospitalizations.

“So we are not yet seeing the full impact on hospitals, but the number of hospital admissions across the province is growing very quickly,” says Pichora.

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That is why KHSC is working on building up bed capacities and is looking for community partners to tackle personnel challenges.

“At the moment all of our beds are not occupied,” says Pichora. “So we’re looking at different ways to fill this staff and who we could bring in from the community to help us cope with some of the pressures as we want to take full advantage of our KGH and Hotel Dieu beds.”

Pichora says there are no immediate plans to open the former St. Mary’s of the Lake site as a field hospital, but it has been part of discussion and planning.

“Providence Care has already opened some beds there, but if we were to open the rest of their beds and our field hospital together, it would require more staff,” says Pichora.

Dr. Evans expects COVID-19 hospital admissions to pick up locally for another week or two before they subside.

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