Expert warns of a 'very high risk of returning to worse circumstances' as infection rates slow
BARRIE, ONT. -- Ontario's ICUs have remained at critical levels as patients are transferred from hospital to hospital throughout the province.
Dr. Barry Nathanson, chief of staff at Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston, talks with CTV's Craig Momney about the current situation.
Craig Momney What is the situation as of today in the ICUs?
Dr. Barry Nathanson Generally, in critical care units across, at least the GTA and its environments, there is some level of reduced anxiety because it appears, only appears, that we may be able to avoid the dire circumstance of having so many critically ill patients in Ontario hospitals that we would not be able to provide standard care to some patients coming in.
And so it looks, right now, that we may have avoided - because of all the measures that Ontarians have taken - that we may have avoided the circumstance of having to use the emergency standard of care whereby we would have to choose between patient A and patient B and unfortunately in that dire circumstance have to allow patients to pass away even though we have, at least notionally, treatments available for them.
So there's some relaxation there, but I can say that we are still at very high risk of returning to worse circumstances, and we could lose the benefits of the gains that we made at great cost in the past weeks and months.
Craig Momney Are patient transfers still happening daily in our area?
Dr. Barry Nathanson Yes. In order to keep things as stable and manageable as they are, which the demand is still high, and the ICUs are still very full, but in order to keep us from reaching a stage of essentially disaster; and one could argue that we have already crossed over the line into disaster in health services in Ontario, but in order to keep us maybe from DEFCON 1, rather than just DEFCON 2, we still have to move patients around the province; they're still happening every single day.
Craig Momney How long will it take to ease the situation?
Dr. Barry Nathanson It's going to take weeks and months to see some real easing. But as we see easing, if we can stay the course, if we can stay the course and enjoy the benefits of the sacrifices made, and we can see continued easing.
Then we have another problem to tackle, which is this massive backlog of necessary medical services in the range of 300,000 procedures that are required for patients in Ontario. That's going to fill things in again. And so times are going to be tough for healthcare for quite some time, and that's if we stay the course.