Toronto General Hospital under alarm in intensive care due to staff shortages

The University Health Network (UHN) says Toronto General Hospital’s three intensive care units are at or near capacity as the health care system struggles to keep up with demand.

In an email to CP24 Tuesday, a UHN spokesperson confirmed that Toronto General Hospital is under a “critical care bed alert,” affecting their medical-surgical, coronary and cardiovascular intensive care units.

“This means that our 3 intensive care units – CVICU, CICU and MSICU – have their total bed capacity and/or limited human resources to keep all physical intensive care beds open and operational safely,” said UHN spokesperson Rosa Kim . .

“Due to multiple factors, including issues caused by the ongoing pandemic, we are experiencing a staff shortage that requires this action.”

While under the alert, Kim said, the hospital is actively triaging patients in need of specialized ICU care and is partnering with Criticall — a ministry-funded organization that ensures patients in the province have access. to urgent and emergency care – to ensure that patients “receive the most appropriate care.”

An Aug. 1 report from Critical Care Services Ontario obtained by CP24 indicates that intensive care beds at Toronto General were 59 percent occupied as of Monday. While the report indicated that 50 intensive care beds were physically available, the hospital’s ability to use those beds for treatment is limited by the availability of nurses and doctors to care for those patients.

Only three of the 73 intensive care beds occupied at the hospital on Monday were used for patients with COVID-19-related critical illness, the report found, indicating that a sudden surge in COVID-19 infections is causing the already precarious situation could easily worsen.

The critical care bed warning at one of Toronto’s busiest hospitals comes as Ontario’s health care system struggles to keep up with demand.

Health Secretary Sylvia Jones told CP24 on Tuesday that she is working with healthcare stakeholders to resolve staff shortages and other issues hampering care.

But aid workers and intensive care workers in the province say the situation is getting desperate.

dr. Raghu Venugopal, an emergency room physician who works at three GTA hospitals, told CP24 that the strain on the system is obvious to anyone seeking treatment.

“The main answer isn’t what I say, it’s what patients and families feel,” Venugopal said. When patients wait for hours with a severely dislocated joint to be reduced, when patients wait hours in a chair for a fracture to be placed, when seniors wait three to four days on a stretcher to be hospitalized, when my patient is lying down now on day four of their stay on an ER stretcher for trauma – if those are the real situations in this province today, what do you think the people of Ontario would say to the minister if they were asked, ‘Are you feeling good? catered?'”

Registered Nurses Association of Ontario president Claudette Holloway called the situation “dire and dangerous” in another interview with CP24 Tuesday.

“I haven’t seen it that bad yet, but we know that over the years there has been a shortage of nurses in Ontario, especially registered nurses. Our quota is lower than in other counties,” Holloway said. “So this is certainly a dire and dangerous situation that requires drastic responses from our politicians.”

She said she and other health professionals are “ready to sit down” to discuss long-term recruitment and retention strategies for the province.

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