Sudbury hospital scaling back services as COVID patient numbers surge
Health Sciences North in Sudbury
SUDBURY -- Sudbury's Health Sciences North (HSN) is preparing for a further increase in COVID-19 patients requiring hospital care as the number of new cases and variants of concern continue to surge.
HSN said in a news release Friday morning it is treating 21 patients with COVID-19, with six of them currently in the intensive care unit (ICU). There are also another 40 patients at the facility who are being tested and waiting for their results, one of those is in the ICU.
The increase in COVID-related hospitalizations coupled with the three outbreaks has forced the hospital scale back some non-urgent outpatient clinics and programs to help support the need for critical care.
"These changes are expected to remain in place for 2-4 weeks, depending on the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community and the number of COVID-19 patients at HSN," the hospital said. "Surgical activity, which had recently increased to 105 per cent of historical volumes, will be scaled back to 80 per cent of historical volumes. Patients who are impacted will be contacted directly. There is no need for patients to call the hospital. Patients who are coming to HSN for procedures are required to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms 10 days prior to their appointment."
HSN spokesperson Jason Turnbull told CTV News in an email on Friday afternoon that the hospital has done extensive surge planning to ensure it can provide the necessary care to patients during the pandemic.
"Current surge plans for our ICU would allow us to care for up to 92 critical care patients in an extreme situation, including 65 COVID-19-positive patients in isolation, with the remaining beds for non-COVID patients needing critical care," Turnbull said.
If needed, HSN can deploy up to 60 ventilators at one time.
"HSN would to turn to regional and provincial surge plans for additional capacity prior to reaching maximum capacity locally to provide care to our patients," Turnbull said.
Three separate COVID outbreaks have been declared on different floors at the hospital in the last week.
The first was on the sixth floor south tower, the hospital's COVID-19 unit, on March 12 and involves two employees who are self-isolating.
On March 13, an outbreak was declared on the fourth floor of the south tower and involves two patients who have since been moved to the COVID-19 unit.
The third outbreak was declared on March 16 involving five patients and one employee from 7B North, the hospital's vascular, thoracic and urology surgical unit. The five patients with COVID-19 from this floor have also been moved to the COVID-19 unit.
"Designated care partner restrictions remain in place for these units until the outbreaks are declared over," the hospital said.
INCREASED DEMAND FOR TESTING
Officials said the hospital is preparing for a further increase in COVID-related hospitalizations as the number of cases in the city continues to climb along with the circulation of variants of concern (VOC). To date, 208 COVID cases in the Sudbury and Manitoulin Districts have screened positive for a VOC and the exact strain has been identified in three of them so far.
With the increase in cases comes an increase in the demand for testing. The hospital said the number of appointment requests at the assessment centre on Regent Street has nearly quadrupled, jumping from an average of 280 per day to nearly 1,000. This week, the number of COVID tests administered has risen by 80 per cent to an average of 450 per day.
"With this increase in demand, HSN is asking everyone to please be kind and patient with assessment centre staff when booking your appointment," the hospital said. "They are doing everything they can to book people in as fast as possible, but wait times may be longer than usual."
Officials said you will receive a confirmation number once the testing request form has been submitted and staff will call to book your appointment within 48 hours upon receipt. They say you can also call 705-671-7373 to book an appointment.
As of Thursday, a total of 201,547 COVID-19 tests have been conducted within the Public Health Sudbury & Districts' service area since the pandemic began.
To date, 20,095 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given to residents in the Sudbury and Manitoulin Districts. Of those, 1,690 people have been fully vaccinated with the recommended two doses.
More than 3,000 of the 4,600 health-care workers at HSN have been vaccinated in the last four weeks. Clinics began at the hospital on Feb. 24 and included the highest priority health-care workers.
This is the list of people currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Sudbury and Manitoulin:
- Staff, residents, or essential caregivers of long-term care homes
- Staff of retirement homes or congregate care settings for seniors
- Residents of retirement homes or congregate care settings for seniors
- Residents or staff of Eldercare homes
- Health care workers (see Ministry of Health criteria, PDF)
- Indigenous adults (First Nations, Métis, Inuit)
- Adults 80 years of age and older in 2021 (individuals born in 1941 or earlier)
- Recipients of chronic home care
Because of the limited supply, eligible residents are being asked to pre-register online or by phone at 705-674-2299. Once registered, you will receive a call to schedule a vaccination appointment.
BY THE NUMBERS
As of Thursday night, there are 261 active COVID-19 cases in the Sudbury and Manitoulin Districts. Of those, 253 are in Greater Sudbury, seven are in the Sudbury District, and one is in the Manitoulin District.
Between March 11-17, Public Health Sudbury & Districts recorded 218 new cases and marked 184 others as resolved. Of those new cases, a VOC was detected in 102 of those new cases and 48 infections were connected to an outbreak. Also during this period, there were 23 active COVID outbreaks in the area.
Since the pandemic began one year ago, 1,110 infections have been recorded and 839 cases have been resolved, including 15 COVID-related deaths.
Most of those cases, 843 of them, have been confirmed in the last three months. The majority of the COVID fatalities, 13, have happened since Jan. 15.
While the COVID-19 vaccine rollout offers hope for many, public health officials are urging everyone to continue to follow recommendations to reduce the further spread.