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Ornge sees rise in child patient transfers as pediatric hospitals under pressure

Ornge says that increase comes as its pediatric hospital partners also see a rise in the number of patients seeking care
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An Ornge air ambulance helicopter is secured on the tarmac in Kingston, Ont. on Monday June 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel

Ontario's air ambulance service says it's seeing an increase in the number of children it transports, with a higher number of those transfers due to respiratory illnesses.

Ornge says that increase comes as its pediatric hospital partners also see a rise in the number of patients seeking care.

Ornge says it has not transferred any pediatric patients outside Ontario so far.

But it says since it may need to take patients to regions outside the province at any time, including cities in the United States, crews are required to carry their passports for each shift.

It says crews may receive reminders about the passport requirement to ensure they're able to respond to patients' needs.

A combination of RSV, the flu and COVID-19 have been putting immense pressure on Ontario's pediatric hospitals, with many having to cancel surgeries to accommodate the influx of patients.

Last week, the province asked thousands of family health-care workers to work evenings and weekends to help ease the burden on children's hospitals.

Ontario Health, the agency that oversees the province's health-care system, also recently directed the province's general hospitals to accept children 14 and older who need critical care.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore has said he doesn't expect respiratory season to peak until early to mid-December.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2022.

The Canadian Press