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HomeBusinessCOVID-19 Exclusive: Royal Columbian Hospital escalates pandemic response

COVID-19 Exclusive: Royal Columbian Hospital escalates pandemic response

Bob Mackin

More mixed messages from B.C.’s Minister of Health.

Just days after postponing all non-urgent surgeries, Adrian Dix told reporters April 26 that there is more space in hospitals. But he did not elaborate.

Royal Columbian Hospital (Fraser Health)

“The number of base beds that are currently vacant has increased since April 21 from 719 to 912 across the hospital system, and the number of critical care beds that are vacant has increased from 95 to 131,” Dix told reporters on April 26.

theBreaker.news has obtained a Fraser Health Authority memo that indicates at one major hospital the increased space is not because of decreased sickness. Royal Columbian Hospital has opened a satellite unit on the fifth floor to treat more coronavirus-infected patients.

The April 26 memo, titled “RCH Critical Care Pandemic Response Escalation,” says there are 46 beds available, including a four-bed high acuity unit on level 5N. The other 42 beds are spread across intensive care, cardiac surgery intensive care, and post-anaesthesia care units. The total number of beds available is eight more than the previous week.

From an April 26 Fraser Health memo.

“As the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, critical care resources within Fraser Health are challenged,” the memo says. “We continue to work regionally to expand care capacity across Fraser Health while we continue to meet the [higher level of care] mandate of RCH. To achieve this we have moved away from ideal staffing assignments and are working in a team model of care. This is not ideal but is a functional requirement at this stage of our pandemic response.”

On April 26, B.C. government officials announced 484 people hospitalized province-wide, including 158 patients in intensive care. Of that, Fraser Health accounts for 256 hospitalized and 82 in critical care. The true numbers in both categories are likely higher, because the B.C. government does not count those who remain in hospital but are no longer actively infected.

The memo says impacts include the need for sourcing additional supplies and equipment, adjusted pharmacy set-up and limiting the cardiac surgery ICU to four beds.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix (BC Gov)

“Last week the next level of our critical care pandemic plan was activated given the ongoing and increasing need for additional COVID capacity. Planning has actively been occurring as we take the next steps to create additional incremental capacity. We know this is challenging and are working to ensure we support er teams to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic response.”

The New Westminster hospital has plans to scale-up to 54, 57 and 71 beds if needed, including double-bunking in intensive care and setting up three beds in an operating room.

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