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Ontario hospitals ordered to cancel non-urgent surgeries

Timmins' hospital has not been notified about southern Ontario COVID-19 patient transfers but says it's ready to respond to local and provincial needs
2019-07-22 Timmins hospital MH
Timmins and District Hospital. Maija Hoggett/TimminsToday

Northern Ontario hospitals are no longer exempt from the province's directive to cancel all non-urgent and non-emergency surgeries in order to clear space for a potential influx of COVID-19 patients.

Ontario's chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams issued a directive Tuesday calling to stop all non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries. It does not apply to pediatric specialty hospitals.

"Emergent and urgent surgeries will not be impacted in an effort to reduce and prevent patient morbidity and mortality," reads the directive.

Timmins and District Hospital communications specialist Kaileigh Russell said the decision to postpone a procedure "must be made following fair and transparent processes."

"With a focus on safe, equitable patient care, TADH has a process in place for triaging all medical procedures. This triage process aligns with the guidance and best practices outlined by the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health and the provincial directive. Any individuals who may be impacted will be contacted directly by the hospital," she said in an email.

On April 10, southern Ontario hospitals were ordered to prepare to start ramping down elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures to ensure they have the capacity to treat COVID-19 patients.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the orders and the ramping down of elective surgeries could increase ICU capacity by up to 1,000 patient beds.

Some Northern Ontario hospitals have received COVID-19 patients from southern Ontario facilities.

As of noon today (April 22), the Timmins hospital has not been notified of any patient transfers from southern Ontario.

"While we have not been notified, our hospital remains ready to respond to the needs of both our community and our province. Our hospital remains committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our patients, designated care partners, staff and physicians," said Russell.

In other areas, Sault Area Hospital (SAH) has been asked to admit a COVID-19 patient from the Greater Toronto Area. SAH said on Monday that more patients from other regions, particularly southern Ontario, are expected to be admitted as the province braces for a surge of COVID patients needing care.

The hospital is preparing to receive one to two patients a day, depending on critical care capacity in our hospital. The release stated that patients transferred to the local hospital could be patients with COVID-19 or without COVID-19.

Health Sciences North in Sudbury has also received COVID patients from other areas of the province.

On Tuesday, North Bay Regional Health Centre confirmed to TVO that the local hospital was preparing to take southern Ontario COVID-19 patients as well.