Lions Gate Hospital is continuing to feel pressure from the number of COVID patients requiring hospitalization and critical care.
The North Shore hospital, one of 20 designated COVID hospitals in B.C., was identified Monday as one of the acute care sites where over 95 per cent of critical care beds have been in use recently.
Richmond Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital are also among the acute care facilities where resources have also been squeezed by the number of COVID patients recently requiring hospitalization.
“We’ve had significant pressures, as people will know, on Lions Gate Hospital for some time,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix on Monday.
Health officials indicated that in the last week leading up to April 16, hospitals in Vancouver Coastal Health had reached 100 per cent capacity of their critical care beds, including both COVID patients and those in hospital for unrelated medical problems.
Doctors on the North Shore first raised the alarm about the surge of COVID patients being admitted to Lions Gate over the Easter long weekend.
Lions Gate has recently increased the number of hospital beds dedicated to COVID patients. There are now two units at the hospital dedicated to COVID patients as well as a third unit being used for patients suspected of having COVID.
No official numbers have been released by the health authority, but unofficial reports continue to put the number of COVID patients at LGH at over 30.
For the past year, the province has had a plan in place to add hospital beds when needed. But health officials stressed the key issue with using those beds is the number of staff required to care for those patients.
Hospital staffing a key issue
“It’s not just about numbers and occupancy rates, but it's about the real ability of our staff in a difficult time to address these questions,” said Dix.
Health administrators are now assessing hospital bed occupancy on a daily basis, and deciding if elective surgeries have to be cancelled in order to move staff to care for COVID patients in intensive care beds.
Elective surgeries at Lions Gate were among those cancelled last week.
In some cases, juggling resources may also mean moving patients between hospitals in the region, said officials.
Early on in the pandemic, health planners came up with different possible scenarios on the numbers of COVID patients who may require hospitalization or critical care in B.C. In the past few weeks, the number of COVID patients in hospital have now surpassed the 400 daily forecast under an extremely high number of COVID cases, although the number of those in intensive care is still lower than the worst case projected at that time.
Hospital scenario 'significantly more challenging'
Compared to both the first wave of the pandemic a year ago and the second wave in the winter, “the COVID-19 situation in our hospitals is significantly more challenging,” said Dix.
While COVID is spreading most rapidly among people 20-29, it is being transmitted in households to older people.
People 50-59 biggest increase in hospitalizations
People aged 50 to 59 make up the biggest increase in recent hospitalizations.
Between the middle of March and the middle of April, the number of people hospitalized and in intensive care with COVID across the province jumped dramatically. In mid-March there were about 220 people in hospital and 127 in critical care. As of Monday there were 441 in hospital, 138 of those in critical care. The number of people on ventilators has doubled.