Ontario hospitals asked to admit teenage patients to adult ICUs

Ontario hospitals are being urged to admit teenage critical care patients to adult intensive care units to help create capacity at children’s hospitals seeing a surge in pediatric ICU patients.

In a memo obtained by CP24, the commander of the Ontario Critical Care COVID-19 Command Centre, Andrew Baker, made the request to hospital CEOs on Wednesday, asking them for “urgent support with implementing strategies related to critical care with the goal of managing significant stress in occupancy and available capacity, both in general and in particular the current and impending surge in pediatric critical care demand.”

“It is anticipated that the next 2-3 months will bring significantly increased demands for pediatric critical care support that will be sustained and characterized by unplanned surges that may occur with very short lead time,” Baker wrote.

Effective Nov. 2, hospitals are directed to manage people aged 14 and over requiring critical care in adult ICU beds. Teenage patients are usually referred to pediatric ICU beds.

The move, Baker said, would “create continuously available pediatric care capacity.”

He noted that the order will be reviewed every two weeks

Hospitals are also being asked to proactively create and sustain additional capacity in adult ICUs to accommodate the move.

“We anticipate that (it) may require hospitals to manage their resources and may result in the need to ramp down surgical/procedural volumes,” Baker wrote.

Children’s hospitals across the province have seen high patient volumes leading to longer than normal wait times for non-emergent cases. They have also recently seen their intensive care beds filled to capacity.

CHEO, the pediatric hospital in Ottawa, announced Wednesday that it was cancelling some non-urgent surgeries, procedures and clinic appointments and redeploying clinicians to free up staff as it deals with a “major surge” in patients this fall.

In the memo, Baker said the move will be “critical to preventing safety incidents and the current and pending surge of demand for pediatric services.”

“We also emphasize that these requests are temporary and will correspond to the predicted surge period,” Baker added.

– with files from CTV Toronto and CTV Ottawa

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