Days after a Toronto hospital was forced to transfer 10 patients as a result of potential oxygen delivery risk due to a surge in COVID-19 patients, Global News has confirmed a Peel Region hospital has also experienced temporary issues recently.
On Thursday, a vice-president for Michael Garron Hospital issued a statement saying the hospital had “potential risks to its oxygen supply” amid a “very high” demand for oxygen.
“MGH took additional precautionary measures to preserve this resource as we worked on expanding oxygen capacity on-site. Some of these measures included postponing seven surgical cases and diverting some ambulances to reduce the demand for oxygen in the hospital,” Mark Fam wrote, adding patients weren’t at risk since additional, temporary capacity was brought in.
In an effort to get a better understanding of potential oxygen supply issues in Toronto and Peel Region — the two communities hardest hit with COVID-19 cases — after the isolated incident at Michael Garron, Global News contacted 11 hospital systems in the area to ask about the matter. As of Saturday evening, responses were received from just more than half of those organizations.
A spokesperson for Trillium Health Partners (THP), which oversees Credit Valley Hospital, Mississauga Hospital, and Queensway Health Centre, said in a statement the facilities have seen increasing demand in response to patient admissions.
The spokesperson confirmed there was a recent issue with oxygen delivery at Mississauga Hospital on April 21 after there was an issue with a pressure gauge.
“This issue did not impact patient care, but as a result we completed a comprehensive assessment and have made mechanical adjustments to the current oxygen supply systems,” the statement said, noting oxygen levels are continuously monitored.
“THP has very thorough response protocols in place to manage any issues and continue to work closely with Ontario Health and our regional partners to ensure we can continue to provide safe care through the pandemic.”
Of the responses received from the hospital organizations, none reported interruptions to the delivery of oxygen from suppliers and there were no other reports of brief interruptions to oxygen deliveries within the facilities.
READ MORE: How Ontario ICUs are preparing for the worst
A spokesperson for Sinai Health said none of their facilities have been affected, but at Mount Sinai Hospital staff have moved to ensure adequate oxygen supply by imposing new measures such as capping the number of high-flow oxygen patients per floor.
At North York General Hospital, a spokesperson told Global News staff work with a third-party vendor to get new oxygen deliveries and that there’s flexibility to increase those shipments if needs fluctuate. They also added there’s a backup system on-site in case there’s an “unplanned” issue.
For the first time during the pandemic, the Hospital for Sick Children opened an eight-unit intensive care unit for younger adults as hospitals have been inundated with admissions.
“Like most hospitals across the province, SickKids is on a liquid oxygen system that supports the hospital’s needs even during times of peak demand. We have the ability to increase our oxygen utilization from where we currently are and do not anticipate any issues with supply,” spokesperson Jessamine Luck told Global News.
As of Saturday, it was estimated there were more than 1,400 COVID-19 patients in ICUs across the country. In Ontario, close to 900 patients were in ICUs. The third wave has meant ICU admissions soared past the second-wave, countrywide peak of around 900 patients.
Figures provided by the provincial government on Sunday showed there were 1,961 hospitalized COVID-19 patients as of Saturday. There were more than 3,700 new cases reported on Sunday, and 1,198 were in Toronto and 797 were in Peel Region.
Recent modelling data presented by the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table showed a cresting of cases at the very highest level, but workplace-related mobility and strained ICUs were affecting the provincial response to the pandemic.
“Our healthcare system is no longer functioning normally,” Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the advisory group, told reporters on Thursday.
“We’re taking the most critically ill patients and putting them in helicopters and ambulances and moving them across the province because we’re searching for beds.”
— With files from The Canadian Press
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