Flu-season strains Hamilton hospital capacity
Hamilton hospitals are currently experiencing issues related to over capacity. In an interview with Global News, Hamilton Health Sciences shared that the McMaster Children's Hospital reached 112 per cent capacity on Oct. 19. Furthermore, they shared the rise in admissions had led to the cancellation of their pre-scheduled care.
A press release from Public Health Ontario, shared on Nov. 3, indicated they were expecting there to be an increase in COVID-19 between Oct. 29 to Nov. 11, 2023 based on data from the previous two weeks.
Moreover, Public Health Ontario's Respiratory Virus Tool indicated a gradual increase in cases since September 2023.
This recent spike in flu and COVID-19 cases directly impacts pediatric patients residing at Ronald McDonald House, which provide families a place to stay together while their children undergo treatment at local hospitals.
The South Central Ontario location, located right beside McMaster University's main campus and McMaster's Children's Hospital, provides accommodations primarily for those in the Niagara, Halton, Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph and Branford regions.
Mario De Divitiis, chief executive officer at Ronald McDonald House Charities South Central Ontario, shared that often children that stay at their location are critically ill and unable to be serviced at their local hospitals. The house allows parents of patients, who are usually not local to Hamilton, to be able to more easily visit their children and get the proper treatment.
Divitiis has noticed the uptick in cases, but he also noted that it typically occurs for them every year around this time. However, rising flu and COVID-19 cases can restrict their ability to admit patients as per usual. As demand increases, accommodation becomes more difficult.
“Yes, we've become accustomed to [over capacity] over the last few years. Unfortunately, there's no great way to prepare for it. Outside of educating the community around how to practice healthy habits,” said Diviitiis
Divitiis also shared that their staff is has been impacted by the rise in flu cases, with members falling ill with COVID and other flu-like sicknesses, which also greatly impairs their organization's ability to serve the patients and their families.
“When it does get overloaded, when it does get compromised, you're risking staff getting sick, you're risking staff to do more with the resources that they have. It's not a good recipe,” said Divitiis.
Additionally, he mentioned that it’s important to check in with one’s self and ask if you’re current state of health would jeopardize those around you. If you feel that the answer leans towards no, to make sure you are taking the extra steps to protect yourself and those around you.
Ultimately, as respiratory sicknesses, including COVID-19 and flu, increase in circulation in the McMaster community, everyone is encouraged to do their best to mitigate transmission.