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Head of William Osler Health System says situation 'slowly getting better' following code orange

William Osler Health System, Brampton, data breach

The head of the William Osler Health System says that the staffing situation at the health network’s hospitals is “slowly getting better” in the wake of a “code orange” being declared on Monday night.

Dr. Naveed Mohammad, who is William Osler’s president and CEO, made the comment to CP24 on Tuesday morning as he discussed the situation brought about by a sudden increase in staff absences as well as a rise in the number of patients requiring treatment for COVID-19.

As of today there are 92 patients with COVID-19 at Osler’s two hospitals - Brampton Civic and Etobicoke General. Four of those individuals are being treated in intensive care.

“We are not being challenged with ICU pressure, we are not being challenged with oxygen pressure or people needing to be put on a ventilator; it is just the sheer number of infections,” Mohammad said. “To help address our COVID-19 pressures we have been working with out peer hospitals and a number of our patients have transferred out. So it has been a situation that is slowly getting better and we are hoping that as we assess it hour by hour things should start to get a little better in the next day or two.”

Mohammed said that a “code orange” is typically declared in situations where the demand for hospital care outpaces the capacity of the system.

In the case of Osler he said that the problem is two-fold – on one hand there is an increased number of patients with COVID-19 showing up at its hospitals and at the same time frontline healthcare workers are increasingly unable to work either due to confirmed cases of COVID-19 or being the close contacts of someone with a confirmed case.

“With the Omicron variant we are happy it is not causing the severe disease that we saw in the third wave with Delta but the issue here is that the Omicron variant is so infectious that it is very easily transmissible and that is where the issues are occurring,” he said. “Not only are we having a lot of patients that are coming in to seek care but a lot of our staff are getting ill and having to stay home. Even with the new isolation period of five days it becomes a really big burden on our healthcare system.”

Hospitals told to halt non-urgent surgeries

On Monday the Ontario government reinstituted a directive that requires hospitals to halt all non-emergent surgeries and non-urgent procedures in a bid to free up capacity.

The government will also suspend indoor dining and order a number of other businesses, including gyms and theatres, to close as of Wednesday amid what Premier Doug Ford has said will be a “tsunami” of Omicron cases.

“Before the pandemic started we were already consistently over 100 per cent capacity in our hospitals. So being at capacity is not new for Brampton. What is unique about what we are seeing right now is the acute shortages in staffing,” Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown told CP24 on Tuesday morning. “We haven’t seen this amount of people who were off in isolation or quarantine because of COVID-19 and when you lose that much staff it puts a pressure on the system,. Earlier in the year it was about four patients for every hospital staff and now that number is one to eight so there has been an acute change in terms of the staffing capacity.”

There are currently nearly, 1,300 people hospitalized across Ontario with COVID-19, up from 491 one week ago. Top Stories


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