The Toronto COVID disaster despatched sufferers to the smallest hospitals within the London space

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Jennifer Bieman

Release date:

April 21, 2021 • • 7 hours ago • • 3 minutes read • • 6 comments (File photo)

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The aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis in the Toronto area is now hitting small towns in southwestern Ontario, where more and more patients are living outside the city, to relieve overburdened hospitals in Canada’s largest city.

Hospitals in Stratford, Brantford, Woodstock, St. Thomas, Chatham-Kent and Sarnia serve more than two dozen patients referred from the greater Toronto area, in addition to those who have been transferred to the London Health Sciences Center in recent weeks .

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance has received two patients from the GTA since Monday, President Lori Marshall said. It is preparing to make a new patient transfer from the Toronto area every day.

“The word everyone is using in connection with this pandemic is ‘unprecedented’. Really, that kind of patient movement is just that, ”she said.

“We see it as our duty and our moral obligation to take in these patients and help where we can.”

Ambulance crews from Chatham-Kent traveled to the undisclosed GTA hospitals to move the two patients earlier this week, Marshall said.

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All four COVID-19 patients who were in intensive care at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital on Wednesday have been moved from the GTA, the hospital said in a statement. Another patient is expected to be admitted outside of town late Wednesday.

Stratford General Hospital has three inpatients with COVID-19 from the GTA in its intensive care unit and three more in acute beds, said Andrew Williams, president of the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, on Wednesday.

COVID-19 and non-coronavirus patients are considered daily for transfer from hospitals in the Toronto area. Even hospitals in southwestern Ontario that don’t directly care for GTA patients play a key role, he said.

“All local hospitals are involved in daily discussions about local transfers in order to release beds in hospitals that receive GTA transfers,” Williams said. “It really is a system response to a very challenging and heartbreaking reality.”

Woodstock Hospital has four patients in its intensive care unit who have been referred by the GTA. All but one have COVID-19. The hospital has received nine patient transfers from the Toronto area to date.

The Brant Community Healthcare System cares for seven patients from the GTA and plans to accept an additional transfer out of town each day.

Two of the eight COVID-19 patients at Bluewater Health in Sarnia on Wednesday are patients referred from hospitals in the Toronto area. One to two additional patient transfers from GTA hospitals are expected daily in the coming days, a spokesman said.

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LHSC had 94 COVID-19 patients in the hospital on Wednesday, 39 of them in intensive care. 25 of the COVID-19 patients in the LHSC’s intensive care unit were moved from outside the region, the hospital said in a statement on Wednesday.

LHSC expects to see between two and five more patients admitted outside of town every day this week and has set up its own adult patient transfer team to remove patients from the severely affected GTA.

Ornge, a non-profit agency that provides air ambulance and critical care transfer services, and York Region Paramedic Services announced Wednesday that they will be using a retrofitted city bus to transport multiple ICU patients from GTA hospitals at the same time.

St. Joseph’s Health Care London and the Middlesex Hospital Alliance have both sent additional staff to the LHSC to build additional critical care capacity. To date, LHSC has accepted five full-time and three part-time nurses from the two hospitals.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit reported 128 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the first three-digit daily number of cases since the weekend. No new local COVID-19 deaths have been reported.

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