Rising ICU admissions, according to staff, are putting the system at risk. On Monday, Health Minister Christine Elliott stated that the province is taking steps to increase hospital capacity. According to medical personnel, each new bed necessitates a slew of resources, including specialized trained personnel. “It’s not like there’s a surplus of clinicians available to service the existing beds,” says one ICU physician. A shortage of critical care nurses, according to Birgit Umaigba, existed prior to the pandemic but has been exacerbated by it. “I get the sense in talking to colleagues at my own hospital and other hospitals that it just feels like there just aren’t enough bodies to look after the patients that you’re anticipating coming to the door,” he says.
The number of beds in Toronto’s medical-surgical intensive care units has increased from 30 last year to 44 this year. “You want those beds to be available. However, providing adequate and safe staffing is difficult, to say the least “According to a nurse manager. The province says it is redeploying personnel from other hospitals in disaster-stricken areas to assist in hotspots. The Ministry of Health has not responded to inquiries about what it is doing to recruit more critical care nurses and doctors, or whether it is seeking assistance from other provinces. According to a nurse manager at a Toronto hospital, the number of ICU beds is increasing faster than the available human resources. “We’re having to rethink how we provide care,” says the hospital’s nurse manager, “and can we do it in a team-based model?” “In addition, we are providing hospitals with the flexibility to transfer patients to alternate hospitals.
When asked what steps the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) and the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) are taking to help meet demand in Ontario’s intensive care units (ICUs), including the registration of out-of-province physicians, both regulatory bodies said they’ve been expediting paperwork to support the health-care system for the past year.
Those working in Ontario’s intensive care units are concerned about the coming weeks, as well as the balancing act of managing beds with limited resources. Morris, on the other hand, claims that the ICU staff at Toronto General Hospital are unwavering in their commitment.