Patients with COVID-19 in Lions Gate Hospital are among those taking resources away from other medical needs as local doctors and nurses deal with the pandemic’s fourth wave.
As of Sept. 7, there were 12 COVID-19-positive patients at Lions Gate Hospital - seven in the COVID-19 unit and five in ICU, according to Vancouver Coastal Health.
That’s fewer than the hospital was seeing during the peak of the third wave of the pandemic in the spring, but also a big step back from the celebration earlier this summer when hospital staff marked the first day in well over a year with no COVID patients.
COVID-19 patients – who are mostly unvaccinated – have recently put increased pressures on the health-care system provincewide.
Between Aug. 1 and Aug. 31, 20 non-urgent surgeries had to be rescheduled at hospitals in Vancouver Coastal Health, including three at Lions Gate.
Over 800 surgeries were completed at the North Vancouver hospital during that time.
Vancouver Coastal Health spokesman Jeremy Deutsch said that’s a testament to the way the health-care system has been changed in the past year to do surgeries on extended hours and weekends and to triage patients differently. More surgeons, anesthesiologists and operating room nurses have also been hired to deal with the surgical backlog.
But the increasing number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals throughout the province remains a concern.
At a press conference Thursday, Health Minister Adrian Dix said of the 130 people then in critical care with COVID-19, 111 of them were unvaccinated and 10 were partially vaccinated.
All of the people under 50 with COVID in critical care were unvaccinated, he said.
Dix presented a further breakdown for the numbers of people in critical care with COVID in B.C., which included seven people between 20 and 29, 13 people in their 30s, 12 in their 40s and 32 in their 50s.
“They are receiving some of the best health care we have ever seen in the world,” he said. But he added, “Everyone would rather be doing something else.”
“Everybody needs to get vaccinated, and these numbers demonstrate the seriousness of COVID-19,” said Dix. “If you need to be in ICU with COVID-19, you are extremely ill, and it will have consequences for you now and potentially far into the future.”
“And so what that tells you is that COVID-19 can affect all of us and particularly can affect young people,” he said.
“Choosing to stay unvaccinated when we're able to be vaccinated is simply holding a red flag to a virus.”
Dix said pressure on ICU has meant delaying some non-urgent surgeries, particularly at Interior hospitals. Major hospitals in the Lower Mainland, particularly in the Fraser Health region have also had to make adjustments, said Dix.
“There's a significant health-care pressure right now, with the Delta variant, people who are unvaccinated are unusually likely to end up in the ICU,” said Dix. “And there's a response to that. There's an easy response to that, and the easy response is to get vaccinated.”