Waiting times: CHEO describes ‘weekend like no other’

CHEO says it has experienced “a spring weekend like no other” in its 48-year history as the emergency department fills with patients, leaving the hospital short of beds.

In a lengthy thread on Twitter, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario says that since Friday a higher-than-average number of young people have been hospitalized with “viruses, trauma and injuries that are more serious than usual,” but there are no free beds for them.

“Over the past six weeks, our patient medical wards have been overcrowded. Again, with more youth than usual who are sicker than usual. COVID, flu, surgeries and many other causes — all that keeps kids in the hospital for overnight stays,” CHEO said.

In Canada, there has been a rare spring surge in Canada following the easing of public health measures designed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The Public Health Agency of Canada reported more than 1,300 flu cases across the country between May 29 and June 4 this year. Last year there was one case between May 23 and June 19.

PHAC also says that while the number of reported flu-related pediatric hospitalizations has declined in recent weeks, it remains above levels typical for this time of year.

CHEO reports the busiest May ever for the emergency department and June could also be a record month for admissions.

“Yesterday, for the first time anyone can remember, we had *16* patients admitted with no bed to go to. So they stayed in ’emerg’. Some for almost 48 hours.”

This had a “gridlock effect,” CHEO says. People who came to the emergency room and did not need immediate care had to wait a long time and some procedures scheduled for the next week had to be canceled or rescheduled.

“Of course we don’t just do that. It hurts us to do. But that’s the reality. We simply now have more people in need of care than we have space, beds and people,” says CHEO.

Hospital officials are urging families to consider emergency room alternatives whenever possible, such as primary care physicians or walk-in clinics; however, patients will not be rejected.

“If you do need to come to CHEO, our staff and medical staff will do everything they can to get the first-class, timely care you deserve,” says CHEO. “Our people on the front line are always there for you. That hasn’t changed in 48 years and never will. Again, if you have to come to CHEO, please do.”

You can check the CHEO website for advice on when your child needs to go to the hospital.

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