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Unwelcome milestone: Health Sciences North reaches all time high for number of COVID patients admitted at one time

Hospital has also admitted the 500th active COVID patient since the pandemic began and patient transfers are again taking place
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Health Sciences North.

Health Sciences North (HSN) has reported 61 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, the highest number of admitted coronavirus patients since the pandemic began and more than twice as many were ever in the hospital in one day in all of 2020 and 2021.

Further, said HSN CEO Dominic Giroux, there are 23 past-positive patients, or patients who are no longer positive for COVID-19 but still requiring care. This accounts for a total of 83 COVID-related admissions. 

"For context, that’s about one patient out of six at HSN who either currently has COVID or has had COVID and currently requires acute care," said Giroux.

He added that HSN has reached what he said was an unwelcome milestone.

"Today, we are admitting our 500th COVID patient of the pandemic, which is a sobering milestone and one we would not have expected to hit several months ago," Giroux added.

Also at this time, there are three active outbreaks on three different floors at the hospital; fourth floor South Tower (began Jan.3); sixth floor North Tower (began Jan. 8) and fifth floor South Tower (began Jan. 14).  

In a bid to mitigate the situation at the hospital, HSN has reintroduced patient transfers to other venues in Greater Sudbury.

"With regards to new locations for providing care in the city, we were successful in working with the Ministry of Long-Term Care in reintroducing the Convalescent Care Program at Extendicare York, which allowed us to transfer about 20 patients from HSN to the community," said Giroux. 

"We also secured approval from the Ministry of Health to open 16 new hospital beds at Amberwood Suites, where we transferred our first patient last Friday. This adds to the 60 hospital beds opened at the Clarion Hotel in 2020, the 40 hospital beds opened at Daffodil Lodge in early 2021, and additional beds opened last year at the Ramsey Lake Health Centre."

Also, to maintain critical and acute care services, HSN said it has implemented its surge plans. As part of those plans, about 130 staff have been redeployed across the hospital, many from outpatient services, to support acute care needs and ensure HSN can take care of the sickest patients. 

The staff members are mostly nurses or allied health professionals from areas such as the cardiac outpatient centre, the diabetes education services and community care programs, who have been redeployed to areas like the Intensive Care Unit, said Giroux.

"This is in line with what other hospitals have been doing and HSN has implemented similar measures at several points in the pandemic. However, it means that it can create delays in outpatient clinics and diagnostic testing areas. It may take longer for new referrals to be seen for a first appointment. We sincerely thank our patients and their families for their understanding as we respond to the very worst of the pandemic thus far," Giroux added. 

Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com, covering health care in northeastern Ontario. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible with funding from the federal government.