The president and CEO of one of Hamilton’s hospital agencies says they’ve asked the province for additional staff support after adding 38 new critical care beds within the last week.
During a Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) COVID-19 staff update on Thursday, Rob MacIsaac said the help is “appropriate in the weeks to come” as more and more patients are entering the system from the GTA and other regions.
“We have indicated to the province that additional support for Hamilton Health Sciences is going to be appropriate in the weeks to come as they continue to lean on us for increasing numbers of beds,” said MacIsaac.
The agency says 201 patients have been transferred to hospitals in the west region due to declining capacity in Ontario amid wave three of the pandemic. Fifty-nine of the patients have now checked into HHS hospital.
Sharon Pierson, executive vice-president of clinical operations and chief operating officer at HHS, says the hospital recently increased intensive care unit (ICU) beds by 43 to 126 total and expects to add more in the coming weeks.
As of Friday, HHS hospitals have 117 COVID-19 patients, with 53 in ICU, which is complicated by a pair of outbreaks at Hamilton General’s 4 West and 5 South units.
The surges, which have been going on since mid-April, involve 26 cases, including 19 patients.
“We have reduced the capacity of the regional rehab centre and also from our procedural and surgical care areas,” said Pierson.
“So a substantive number of staff have been deployed across our areas primarily to critical care.”
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Infection prevention specialist Dr. Dominik Mertz told staff ICU admissions are not likely to reach the highs projected by the province two weeks ago but could still top the 1,000 case mark amid the third wave.
He said admissions in Hamilton have not yet flattened and that there are still “significant increases” in ICU cases.
Mertz says variants of concern (VOC) likely have contributed to the problem and that most cases not identified as a variant likely are.
“VOCs are sitting at 75 per cent of all cases,” said Mertz.
“Keep in mind that not all of them get necessarily tested for VOCs, so it may actually be higher than that.”
A drop week over week in overall coronavirus cases and another bump in vaccine distribution was the positive news for the city as one-third of the eligible population have had at least one dose of the available shots.
As of Thursday, 186,114 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the city.
Hamilton reports 181 new COVID-19 cases, one death
Hamilton reported 181 new COVID-19 infections on Friday and one more virus-related death
The deceased is a person in their 60s. The city has now had 360 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began.
Public health recorded three new outbreaks at a retirement home, a supportive housing complex and another workplace.
Four cases make up the outbreak at a CLS retirement home, D & D Custom Steel Products in Stoney Creek has pair of cases among staff and there’s a single case at Evergreen Manor in Central Hamilton.
Seven outbreaks were declared over on Thursday at two supportive housing units, a daycare, a school, a health clinic, child care and a workplace. The largest of the closed surges was at St. Vincent de Paul Children’s Centre, which had six cases in an outbreak that lasted 10 days.
There are now 16 workplace outbreaks across the city involving 130 total cases.
The largest two involve Aryzta/Oakrun Farm Bakery on Fiddlers Green Road, reporting 37 cases, while National Steel Car’s outbreak involves 28 employees.
As of Friday, Hamilton has 36 outbreaks involving more than 240 total cases.
The city says there are 1,705 active cases as of April 30, up 129 from Thursday.
Around 9.4 per cent of all COVID-19 tests in the city are returning with positive results, down from 10.3 on Thursday.
The city’s COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 population over seven days was up day over day to 170 from 166.
The reproductive rate in Hamilton dropped on Friday from 1.09 to .86, suggesting spread of the virus is declining. On average, the rate means one case is making less than one new case in the community.
As of Thursday, Hamilton hospitals are treating 163 COVID-19 patients. There are 117 at HHS and 46 at St. Joe’s.
Ontario’s new COVID-19 cases were up again day over day to 3,887 as of Friday, compared to the 3,871 reported on Thursday.
Most public health units reported fewer than 200 new cases in the provincial report, except for Toronto (1,331), Peel (871), York (267) and Durham (208).