In response to a rapid rise in hospitalizations and ICU admissions, the province is issuing two new emergency orders to maintain Ontario’s critical care capacity.
During times where the demand for critical care threatens to overwhelm a hospital, the province says it will allow hospitals to transfer patients to alternate hospital sites without obtaining the consent of the patient or the patient’s substitute decision maker.
“Hospitals may rely upon this order to facilitate the transfer of a patient to an alternate hospital site only when necessary to respond to a major surge event, when the attending physician is satisfied that the patient will receive the care they require at that other site and that the transfer can be effected without compromising the patient’s medical condition, and where all of the other conditions specified within the order have been met,” the province said.
“As soon as possible following the conclusion of the major surge event, the alternate hospital site would be required to make reasonable efforts to transfer the patient back to the original hospital site or to another suitable care location which is consented to by the patient or substitute decision maker.”
Effective immediately, Home and Community Care Support Services organizations (formerly LHINs) and Ontario Health will also have the authority to deploy staff (such as care coordinators, nurses, and others) to work in in hospitals that are experiencing significant capacity pressures due to COVID-19.
In addition, Home and Community Care Support Services organizations will be able to deploy staff to backfill redeployed staff within and to another Home and Community Care Support Service organization.
Starting Monday, April 12, Ontario Health has instructed hospitals to ramp down all elective surgeries and non-urgent activities in order to preserve critical care and human resource capacity.
Pediatric specialty hospitals can also continue their plans to care for children and youth and may help if required to support other regional hospitals.
“Together with the provincewide Stay-At-Home Order, these measures will help to ensure that hospitals continue to have the staffing and resources they need to care for patients,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott.
“We continue to work with our hospital and health care partners to fight this deadly virus, and I want to thank all of Ontario’s frontline health care workers for their tireless work each day to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.”
These orders, issued under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), came into effect on April 9 and will remain valid for 14 days unless revoked or extended.
The province expects that these orders, along with additional measures being taken, will increase ICU capacity in Ontario by up to 1,000 patient beds.