Hospitals remain over-capacity in Hamilton as ER visits climb


Published February 2, 2024 at 5:45 pm

Ontario, Hamilton, children, tonsil, surgeries, died, adenoid
Two children died following tonsil and/or adenoid surgery at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton.

Three of Hamilton Health Science’s (HHS) four hospitals are over capacity and the fourth is nearing its limit as emergency room (ER) visits get more frequent.

HHS releases updates on hospital capacity every few weeks in an effort to inform potential patients. In sharing this information HHS hopes “for the community’s help in preventing the spread of respiratory illness this fall/winter season and preserving access to the city’s urgent care and emergency resources for those who need them most.” The latest update was released on Feb. 1. The breakdown is as follows;

  • Hamilton General Hospital 104%
  • Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre 112%
  • McMaster Children’s Hospital 96%
  • West Lincoln Memorial Hospital 119%

This capacity spike has been driven by more frequent visits to the ER. In January 2024, HHS reported 2,039 visits, a nearly 10 per cent jump from the 1,370 visits in January 2023.

As all adult care sites are overwhelmed, HHS had to treat an average 82 patients in “unfunded beds.” These are beds the hospital did not budget for and therefore did not get government funding for. Operating these beds requires the hospital to dip into its other funds like those reserved for capital projects.

The same trend is ongoing at McMaster Children’s Hospital. While visits are down from December, they are still higher than January 2023. At that time, McMaster saw 777 visits but has seen 906 in 2024.



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