Hospitals in Southern Ontario create 'collaborative' plan for potential COVID-19 surge

A number of local hospitals in Southern Ontario are working on a regional plan to mitigate a possible spike in COVID-19 cases and avoid more cancellations of scheduled surgeries and procedures.

In a joint release on Tuesday hospitals in Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Norfolk, Brant and Burlington (HNHNBB region) say the agreed arrangement is expected to keep regional hospitals “stable” during any resurgence in cases allowing for the relocation of coronavirus patients with “mild to moderate symptoms” who require hospitalization.

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“The hospitals are working together to balance the demand,” said Cheryl Williams, HHS vice president for adult regional care. “So if there is a surge in COVID cases in any one part of the system that we’re working collaboratively to make sure that no one part of the health-care system becomes overwhelmed.”

Williams says the idea is to keep hospitals on course to avoid massive backlogs accumulated when non-essential surgical procedures were put on hold in mid to late March due to the crush of COVID-19 patients.

The plan has designated four larger regional hospitals as potential destinations should a local hospital not have space for an influx of COVID-19 patients.

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Hamilton General, Niagara Health’s St. Catharines site, St. Joseph’s in Hamilton, and Joseph Brant Hospital are potential destinations for acute cases. Joseph Brant’s 73-bed Pandemic Response Unit (PRU) is also in the mix, according to the hospital’s chief of staff.

“It was really tailor-made to take care of patients with the kind of symptoms that COVID engenders,” said Dr. Ian Preya.

“This is purpose-built to take care of this subset of patients.”

Williams says a team will be determining the operational details of the plan in the next few weeks which will include a system of tracking acute case counts in each regional hospital.

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“That information is available now, actually,” Williams said. “That will absolutely be put in place, a process to monitor the volumes of individuals who are being hospitalized across the region.”

Williams did not have an exact date on when the system would be going live.

Hamilton reports two new COVID-19 cases

Meanwhile, Hamilton public health reported two new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

The city says more than half of the new coronavirus cases in the last 10 days have come from people under the age of 30.

The agency reported that 62 per cent of its 31 most recent cases came from residents aged 29 and under, with those between 10 and 19 accounting for 36 per cent of all cases.

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Since the pandemic, Hamilton has had a total of 1,040 confirmed cases, including 45 deaths.

The city has no current institutional outbreaks.

Halton Region with four new COVID-19 cases

Public Health Halton reported four new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday with three new cases recorded in Oakville.

The region has 1,045 total cases since the pandemic began. There are 60 active cases, and 25 deaths tied to COVID-19 as of Sept. 15.

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The region has no current institutional outbreaks.

Niagara Region with one new COVID-19 cases

Niagara public health reported one new COVID-19 case on Tuesday.

The region now has 969 total cases since the pandemic began and 25 current active cases.

There are no outbreaks as of Sept. 15.

Sixty-four people with COVID-19 have died in Niagara.

Haldimand-Norfolk with no new COVID-19 cases

Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) reported no new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. The region has an overall total of 485 lab-confirmed, positive cases.

Officials say there are 11 active cases as of Sept. 15.

The region has one community outbreak at Walpole North Elementary School near Hagersville.

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Brant County reports no new COVID-19 cases

Brant County’s health unit revealed no new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

The region has 167 confirmed cases as of Sept. 15, and five deaths since the pandemic began.

There are two current outbreaks in Brantford at Le Ballon Rouge Daycare and ​John Noble Home nursing home, both reporting a single case.

The county has three known active COVID-19 cases.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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