TORONTO -- The Hospital for Sick Children will begin to accept paediatric inpatients Monday from across the Greater Toronto Area in an effort to help increase capacity in acute-care hospitals.

In a statement, the hospital confirmed they have been working with regional hospitals and health-care system partners to prepare to accept pediatric patient transfers.

“SickKids routinely accepts paediatric patients from other hospitals and is prepared to provide safe, high-quality care to additional paediatric patients, and to maintain stable hospital capacity for children and youth from across the GTA, with minimal impacts to clinical care and regular hospital operations,” the statement said.

“At this time, we are only admitting paediatric patients from certain hospitals in the GTA. SickKids is committed to providing ongoing support to GTA hospitals as the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to strain the health-care system.”

The news comes after SickKids Hospital opened a new eight-bed intensive care unit to treat adult patients as Toronto’s ICU capacity is stretched to the limit.

The President and CEO of SickKids said Monday morning that seven of the eight beds are already full.

“We have one more available,” Dr. Ronald Cohn told CTV News. “Anything we can do to help take off some pressure off hospitals I think is going to be a benefit.”

Patients were only supposed to be transferred to SickKids after attempts were first made to send patients to other hospitals in neighbouring regions.

On Monday, Critical Care Services Ontario reported at least 612 COVID-19 patients in the ICU. Ontario hospitals have also started ramping down elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures to Ontario hospitals will start ramping down elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures today to ensure they have the capacity to treat more COVID-19 patients

Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, confirmed that his hospital has transferred patients from their pediatric unit to SickKids Hospital to make space for more COVID-19 patients.

“I think the key is to create capacity in the hospital so we can offload the emergency department because the demand for care for new patients is unrelenting and you can’t divert people who walk into the emergency department or who get taken there by ambulance, so the more capacity you can create in the hospital, the better,” Warner told Newstalk1010 on Monday morning.

Warner added that transferred patients should not experience a big change in care.