Viruses causing ‘extreme pressue’ for Hamilton hospitals


Published January 11, 2024 at 9:26 pm

The respiratory illness season is causing “extreme pressure” on Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) four hospitals, with each reporting they are over capacity.

The new data came in HSS’ regular update released in Jan. 11. The pressures mostly effect the HHS adult-focused hospitals; Hamilton General Hospital, Juravinski Hospital and West Lincoln Memorial Hospital. “We are seeing a high volume of sicker people in our EDs due to the viral season. At the same time, staff absences due to illness are posing a challenge to meeting the needs of this increased volume of patients,” HHS wrote.

The hospitals’ capacities are respectively at;

  • Hamilton General Hospital 106 per cent
  • Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre 110 per cent
  • McMaster Children’s Hospital 103 per cent
  • West Lincoln Memorial Hospital 124 per cent

HHS has called this capacity “unprecedented,” particularly at the West Lincoln site which hit 134 per cent earlier this week. At one point Juravinski alone had more than 500 patients admitted but only has 441 beds.

“This means that the number of patients needing care exceeds the number of beds available and some patients are receiving care in surge spaces and non-traditional locations, such as hallways,” HHS explained.As a result, non-urgent surgeries have been postponed to free up space. In the last week, nine such cases were deferred.

Unlike the adult hospitals, McMaster’s Children’s situation has somewhat improved from previous updates but HHS noted a rise in viral cases since kids returned to classes after the holiday break. HHS has expanded the use of “unfunded, contingency, and surge beds,” increased staffing where they can, sped up patient discharges where appropriate and offered virtual and remote care options.

However, they note visitors are “strongly recommended” to wear masks and should not visit if they feel ill. Additionally, they stressed not every child with a virus needs to go to the emergency room if their symptoms can be managed at home.

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