The region’s largest children’s hospital is taking extreme measures amid rising capacity and a triple threat of respiratory viruses hitting children.
London Health Sciences Center (LHSC) Children’s Hospital told CTV News London it has started reducing surgeries by 50 to 70 per cent and only doing the most critical ones.
“We had no choice,” said Dr. Ram Singh from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital.
“We don’t make decisions like this lightly, we take them very seriously,” he said. “Any time we postpone surgery for a child who has waited several months, it is not an easy decision. Executives put their heads together and we thought this might be the best decision we can make at this point.”
The hospital said inpatient bed occupancy at Children’s Hospital is 115 percent – higher than at any time during the pandemic. Emergency room visits are up 80 percent and wait times are between six and eight hours.
dr Ram Singh from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at LHSC Children’s Hospital is seen in London, Ontario. on November 22, 2022. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London)
Londoner Tristan Johnson, a new father to a one-year-old, said it was just another thing parents need to stress in a long list of health concerns.
“Babies can be very susceptible to various diseases, and so I’m really concerned that we’re going to show up in the ER or something and they won’t have a bed or anything,” Johnson said. “At this point, we can’t even get Tylenol for kids.”
LHSC also said it has transferred some patients as young as 14 to the adult intensive care unit to maintain the capacity of the children’s hospital.
“I would say we’ve never seen anything like this in my working life and I’ve been in this business for about 30 years,” Singh said.
Like hospitals across Ontario, LHSC Children’s Hospital is grappling with a surge in cases involving three respiratory viruses – COVID-19, influenza and RSV.
Singh urges vaccinations.
Tristan Johnson, as seen on November 22, 2022, is a father to a one-year-old and is concerned about the pressure at Children’s Hospital in London, Ontario. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London)
“Get your child vaccinated, number one,” he said. “There is no reason to ignore the flu shot. Everyone should get it if they can get it if there are no complications. Number two, if your child is sick, don’t send them to school, don’t send them to kindergarten. If you’re sick, don’t go to work.”
Meanwhile, doting dad Johnson said keeping up with his shots is the least he can do to ease the healthcare burden.
“Some of the things I’m doing might be overly cautious, but given that our infrastructure has been pretty much taken down by the pandemic and now with the current surge, I imagine that anything we can do to keep up.” Playing it safe is the wiser answer. ” he said.
Meanwhile, LHSC said there was no timeline for how long the reduction in operations was expected to last.