By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Two weeks after the province alerted hospitals to reserve space in their Intensive Care Units to receive ICU patients from other regions (as their own hospital ICU space fills up), no such patients have been received at Northumberland Hills Hospital.
But – as is heard so often during the early weeks of 2021 – it is a very fluid situation. And NHH stands ready to help if such assistance is required.
An NHH spokesperson confirmed Thursday that the hospital continues to have ICU capacity (meaning not full at this moment). No requests have come in to receive specific patient transfers as a result of COVID-19 pressures elsewhere, but they have been told to prepare.
“And we are,” Senior Director Public Affairs and Strategic Partnerships Jennifer Gillard stated.
“We will work as a system as required.”
Capacity within the health-care system has been one of the key concerns throughout the pandemic. Since the emergency was declared 10 months ago, Northumberland’s two hospitals – NHH and Campbellford Memorial Hospital – have had only nine hospitalizations attributed to COVID (according to figures from the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit).
Shortly after the province approached hospitals about reserving one-third of their available ICU beds for transfers from hospitals that have maxed out their ICU capacity, NHH President and Chief Executive Officer Linda Davis issued a statement that COVID had provided an important lesson.
“We cannot beat it alone,” Davis stated.
“COVID has highlighted the benefits of co-ordinating local and provincial approaches to care – perhaps this will be a positive legacy of a very challenging and unprecedented situation.”
Even before coronavirus made its way to Canada, NHH was already well aware of the values of collaboration, working in partnership with both local and regional health-care system, from primary-care providers to home- and community-care agencies, paramedics and more.
At the time of her statement, Davis said the hospital’s ICU had capacity for 10 patients (including the four additional funded beds announced for its ICU by Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini last month).
“We have plans in place to ‘surge up’ – if required – but recognize that this would also require additional staff and physicians to support the patients in these beds, and this is expected to be a challenge,” Davis’s statement said.
“As a community hospital, NHH regularly transfers patients to larger centres when specialized care is required that we do not offer here in Northumberland and, likewise, we expect that we may also be called upon to accept patient transfers from other areas, if appropriate.
“While our first priority is to provide access to care to the best of our ability at the local level, we are also prepared to step up to meet the requests of the broader provincial system should that be required.”