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‘A desperate time’: Ontario hospitals move doctors from other roles to ICUs to avoid ‘total collapse’

In an internal memo, Mackenzie Health’s chief of staff has asked York Region physicians to move from their “traditional” roles and provide assistance at intensive care units — which are slammed with patients who have COVID-19.

“This is truly a desperate time for us all and we are now making very challenging decisions to avoid a total collapse,” said Dr. Steven Jackson, vice president of medical planning and chief of staff at Mackenzie Health.

“Many physicians will be asked to help out, even if this is an area with which they have little recent experience.”

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The memo obtained by Global News and dated April 12 calls for physicians from across York Region to help at ICUs in Mackenzie Health’s two hospitals; Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital and Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital.

Jackson’s memo also addresses doctors within its own hospitals’ practice areas in asking them to volunteer at specific practice areas that are in need of staff due to an abundance of COVID-19 patients.

“I am now asking for an physicians from the hospital or the region who feel able to participate at the hospital … with your willingness and your area of competence: critical care, hospitalist, or simply physician extender (work under supervision of an internist or intensive care physician), so that we can best use your valuable skills.”

The memo also adds that the hospitals are “planning on utilizing creative and novel spaces to look after this load of critically ill patients.”

Read more:
Kingston-region hospitals shuffle space to make room for Ontario COVID-19 patients

Meanwhile, Global News has also obtained an internal memo from William Osler Health System to all family physicians in the central region — asking for help from any doctors who are willing to be redeployed to the critical care and COVID-19 units of their hospitals in Brampton or Etobicoke.

“Wave 3 of the COVID-19 pandemic is causing widespread pressures that are stressing our hospitals beyond capacity,” said Dr. Mira Backo-Shannon, vice-president of Clinical, Health System Strategy, Integration and Planning of Ontario Health, in a memo.

The memo goes on to ask for assistance from physicians who would work as part of a team of “critical care nurses, respiratory technologists and other members of a critical care team in managing ICU and AIRVO patient units.”

Backo-Shannon highlights that physicians would commit to working one to two 12-hour shifts per week.

— With files from Katherine Ward

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