London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) says it plans to transfer a number of patients to health partners in the region and reduce services in an effort to boost its own capacity ahead of “an imminent surge of COVID-19 patients.”
Dr. Adam Dukelow, LHSC’s chief medical officer, revealed the plans during a media briefing on Thursday hosted by the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
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When asked about current capacity at the hospital network, Dukelow said it had been impacted by ongoing outbreaks at University Hospital and Victoria Hospital.
Outbreaks remain active in at least six areas of University Hospital, however two outbreaks were declared resolved this week. Two unrelated outbreaks are currently active at Victoria Hospital.
“Capacity at Victoria Hospital is currently very constrained because we’ve had to move many patients that would’ve normally been admitted to University Hospital to Vic,” Dukelow said.
“We’ve reached out to regional partners and do anticipate decanting some acute patients to area hospitals in order to help with the capacity challenges at Victoria Hospital.”
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The plans to boost capacity were announced two days after Ontario Health had requested hospitals in grey lockdown and red control zones be prepared to implement surge capacity plans within two days if needed.
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“We’ve opened 24 additional beds at Victoria Hospital and we are also working to open up another 26 beds in the month of January, so we are absolutely working towards having 15 per cent of capacity open to deal with incoming COVID patients,” Dukelow said.
Dukelow says LHSC will be having discussions on Thursday with the Middlesex Hospital Alliance, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, Woodstock Hospital, Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital and other regional health partners to determine what’s possible in terms of transferring out patients from London.
In terms of who will be transferred, Dukelow says LHSC will focus on patients who could be equally cared for at other hospitals outside the city.
“We would call that sort of secondary care, things like pneumonia that could get admitted in St. Thomas or in London and doesn’t necessarily need some of the tertiary or quaternary services we offer at LHSC,” Dukelow said.
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As for service reductions, Dukelow says those will likely take place at Victoria Hospital. Service at University Hospital is currently reduced to urgent and emergent work only.
Discussion is still underway for what services will be reduced, but Dukelow says they’ll focus on reducing services that take up human resources and beds.
“Often that is procedures and surgeries, but we’re working through the specifics right now,” Dukelow said.
“Any patient that is affected by this disruption will be contacted directly by their provider.”
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