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HHS is taking action to address concerns from the President and CEO of Ontario Health regarding surge capacity.
December 16, 2020

Hamilton Health Sciences Information Regarding Surge Capacity

Yesterday, President and CEO of Ontario Health Matthew Anderson sent a letter to hospitals across Ontario regarding surge capacity. Please see below for information on actions being taken by Hamilton Health Sciences to address these recommendations and concerns.

Capacity – re: Letter from Ontario Health to have 15 per cent

  • Hamilton Health Sciences staff and physicians have been working tremendously hard since the beginning of the pandemic in March, and continuing through the second wave, to provide safe care despite the many challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented.
  • In accordance with Ministry direction, we are prepared to make available 10 per cent of inpatient capacity in the event of a surge in COVID cases.
  • If necessary, we can increase that surge capacity further – to 15 per cent.
  • Our sites are currently under stress. We’re hovering at nearly 100 per cent occupancy or more on a daily basis.
  • The situation is made even more challenging because of the ongoing outbreaks at the Juravinski Hospital.
  • Across our hospital system, we currently provide care to 41 COVID patients, including seven in Intensive Care Units (ICU)

As per the letter and requests from Ontario Health, HHS is:

  • Currently meeting the 10 per cent capacity of staffed adult inpatient beds for COVID-19 within 48 hours.
  • Continuing to work with and support regional partners for COVID-19 response to facilitate inter-hospital patient transfers (i.e. HGH).
  • Continuing surgical, procedural and other scheduled in-person care without delay if it is considered time-sensitive, and considering what services could be scaled down if necessary.
  • Working with Long Term Care facilities in the community to provide support for outbreaks.
  • Accounting for the specialty services provided by HHS (i.e. pediatrics, cancer care, stroke, cardiac and vascular care, trauma and neurosciences to name just a few).

HHS has taken action to keep providing care despite capacity challenges. We have:

  • We opened a temporary satellite health facility with St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, to accommodate patients who would otherwise be awaiting community care in a hospital bed.
  • Together with our hospital partners in Hamilton, Haldimand, Niagara, Burlington and Brant, we have designed a Regional COVID-19 Model of Care Strategy to minimize any potential disruption of care in our area. The model includes the consolidation of COVID-19 care at four designated hospitals (one of which is the Hamilton General Hospital site of HHS).
    • This designated area within the HGH is currently near or at capacity with 19 COVID patients in the unit.
    • There are also seven patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the HGH.
    • We continue to strongly encourage everyone to follow safety measures – wear a mask, physical distance, wash their hands – and get a flu shot.
    • All these efforts have been made possible by the fantastic dedication and flexibility demonstrated every day by staff and physicians.

Factors pushing our occupancy rate up, include:

  • Increases in alternate level of care patients, partially driven by beds lost in the community because of Provincial Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) requirements.
  • Increasing demand for hospital services by our community and region.
    • HHS is home to a number of key regional referral programs in pediatrics, cancer care, stroke, cardiac and vascular care, trauma and neurosciences to name just a few.
  • Increasing rates of COVID in our community.

Current State at the Juravinski Hospital – Outbreaks

  • We currently have five (5) COVID outbreaks on two separate wards at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre.
    • 30 patients (nine remain at the JHCC)
    • 40 staff members and physicians (including residents)
    • Two learners
  • These outbreaks are specific to the Juravinski Hospital, and not the Cancer Centre – there are no outbreaks within the Cancer Centre.
  • The remaining patients have either been discharged or transferred to another care setting.
  • Less than five patients have since passed away due to COVID-19. We extend our deepest condolences to their loved ones.
  • No visitors are currently allowed on the units that are in outbreak, except on compassionate grounds.
  • We have put extraordinary measures in place to limit the possibility of spread at the site. The affected units are now closed for admissions and that may put added pressure on our overall capacity at HHS since they are both general medicine units.


Veronica Magee
HHS Communications & Public Affairs

Wendy Stewart
HHS Communications & Public Affairs