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Number of COVID patients in Lions Gate Hospital increasing

There were 16 COVID-19 patients hospitalized on the North Shore this week
The number of COVID-19 patients at Lions Gate Hospital has increased over the past month. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

The number of COVID-19 patients at Lions Gate Hospital is continuing to rise.

There were 16 COVID patients in hospital on the North Shore as of Oct. 12, according to Vancouver Coastal Health.

Five of the patients in the 11-bed ICU at Lions Gate were also COVID patients.

The number of hospitalized COVID patients at Lions Gate has been slowly creeping up over the past month. In early and mid-September, there were 12 COVID patients hospitalized on the North Shore.

The number of COVID cases on the North Shore recently stabilized after spiking in September, but increases in hospitalizations tend to lag behind case numbers as it usually takes time for those who are infected with the virus to develop severe symptoms.

Lions Gate also admits COVID patients from areas throughout the Coast-Garibaldi health services area.

The numbers of hospitalized COVID patients are still fewer than there were during last spring’s “third wave” of the pandemic, when unofficial reports put the number of COVID-19 patients at Lions Gate at more than 30, with a third in critical care. But it’s also a big step back from the celebration earlier this summer marking the first day in over a year without COVID patients.

On Tuesday, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s medical health officer, said while COVID hospitalizations have been relatively stable in the past week, “they are still very high.”

“That means that we've had, again, increasing impact on our hospitals and our critical care,” she said.

Henry said the Delta variant of the virus is both more transmissible and more likely to make even young healthy people sicker.

“People are becoming severely ill. Even young people, mostly unvaccinated younger people,” she said.

Many of those becoming ill are in the northern area of the province. Recently, however, a number of those COVID patients, as well as others requiring critical care, have been airlifted to hospitals in the southern part of the province as hospitals in the North became overwhelmed.

According to the Ministry of Health, hospitals in the Vancouver Coastal Health region have received 14 transfers from Northern Health since Sept. 5.

While the ministry refused to say how many transferred patients have gone to specific hospitals, it did confirm, “Lions Gate has been involved in receiving patients.”

On Tuesday, Henry urged those who have delayed getting a shot to get one now.

“My health-care colleagues across this province are stretched, and we are tired. It's been a long 20 months,” she said.

“It is so, so hard for us to see a preventable illness now affecting people across the province.”

Henry said vaccination rates need to increase to protect people from severe illness.

On Wednesday, there were 374 people hospitalized with COVID in B.C. hospitals – the highest number since May 14, with 153 of those people in intensive care units (ICUs).

Most of those ending up in hospital are unvaccinated.

Between Oct. 5 and 11, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 68 per cent of new cases. Between Sept. 28 and Oct. 11, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 73.4 per cent of hospitalizations.