Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Responds to New Provincial Directive
CHATHAM-KENT: April 9, 2021 – In accordance with a new Ontario Health directive to Ontario hospitals, and in order to preserve critical care and human resource capacity for provincially and regionally Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) is obligated to “ramp down” non-urgent, elective/scheduled care and procedures effective 12:01 am Monday, April 12, 2021. The decision is based on increasing COVID-19 case counts and widespread community transmission across many parts of the province, as well as extreme pressure on the acute and critical care capacity of hospitals across the province.
CKHA will continue to provide urgent and emergent services as well as the necessary programs/services to support those same procedures (e.g. Diagnostics, Post-Anesthesia Care Unit). Given current local demands on the hospital, CKHA will maintain its ambulatory and diagnostic services. The direction, however, is to continue with limited ambulatory services and we will adhere to that. If local conditions change, or if the hospital is called on to support other hospitals in the region or across the province, CKHA will take steps to immediately ramp down or cease these limited ambulatory services.
If and when cancellation of surgical procedures is required, patients will be notified by their surgeon. CKHA relies on the clinical judgement of its surgeons to make informed decisions of which cases to proceed with during ramp down measures. Patients will be contacted in advance if their scheduled appointments are affected.
This is a temporary measure to create capacity within CKHA to respond to the urgent critical care needs that hospital partners across the region and province are currently experiencing. During this third wave of the pandemic, COVID-19 cases have risen rapidly due to variants of concern (VoC) throughout the province, and critical care beds have approached an unprecedented state. Beds at CKHA are a provincial asset and the hospital must take a regional approach to help ease capacity on the wider system. This includes preparing to accept patient transfers from other regions to CKHA if needed. Occupancy across CKHA must remain at 85% or lower during this time in order to appropriately respond to provincial health care system needs. Available capacity needs to be accessible with a quick turnaround (i.e. within hours, not days).
Currently, CKHA has capacity in its Intensive Care Unit and has a plan to take a stepped approach to increase critical care capacity, as needed. To ensure patients across the province receive the life-saving care they need, hospitals in harder-hit areas of Ontario are transferring patients to hospitals with critical care capacity, which could include CKHA. The province’s goal is to preserve critical care and human resource capacity across the system.
CKHA will continuously monitor this ramp down measure with great care and consideration. CKHA thanks its patients, families and care partners for their understanding during these difficult times. CKHA asks that patients do not call the hospital regarding their procedures; patients will hear from their surgeon if a change is required. Follow up questions can be directed to their Surgeon’s Office.
The status of the pandemic continues to be assessed daily. More information will become available as the situation changes.