Close to collapse? Nanaimo doctor says COVID-19 ICU almost at capacity

Close to collapse? Nanaimo doctor says COVID-19 ICU almost at capacity

From the outside, Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital looks like business as usual.

Inside though, advocates say health care workers are overwhelmed.

“We already had overcapacity without COVID-19 and now we’re even more understaffed and now we have these influxes of covid,” said Crystal Mundy, a healthcare advocate. “We don’t have the personal capacity, the human capacity to be in the scenario right now.”

For a year and a half so far through this pandemic, doctors and nurses have been stretched thin. And now with an influx of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, they’re running out of steam.

“We are close to capacity in terms of our designated COVID-19 ICU area,” said Dr. David Forrest, an infectious disease specialist at Nanaimo General Hospital.

“Ten out of 11 covid ICU beds are occupied there now. We have seen a continued increase in cases over the last few days.”

The patients in Island hospitals though are no longer just islanders. Forrest says other hospitals across the province are strained, meaning patients are being flown around B.C. to get the care that they need.

“Given the fact that I know we’ve been asked to accept patients from outside this health authority, I think the significant capacity issues we’re seeing here on the island are being duplicated across the province,” said Forrest.

Island Health acknowledged it has been seeing increased patients in critical care units in its hospitals, and have made some changes.

“In response to increasing hospitalizations, we established an inpatient unit for COVID+ patients at Victoria General Hospital to help support the increased demand for patients requiring hospitalization, but who do not require critical care,” said Island Health in a statement.

“To support additional critical care needs beyond our base capacity we have implemented surge critical care beds should they be required.”

Meanwhile, online, doctors and nurses are flagging that Royal Jubilee hospital’s COVID-19 ward is full, but many were unwilling to speak to CHEK News on camera.

“They are 100 per cent fearing being reprimanded by administration. At the extreme end, and it’s not a small amount of them, they’re worried about losing their jobs,” said Mundy, when asked why health care workers are wary of speaking to the media.

Meanwhile, the doctors who are speaking say the current COVID policies in B.C. need to change.

“I’m very worried about the capacity of the health care system as a whole, performing optimally,” said Forrest.

“I think Minister Dix and the government recognized this was a possibility, that’s why we were unable to offer assistance to Alberta. So I think the planning is already underway on how to manage this.”

There’s been no word yet on any additional health orders, so Forrest is resorting to pleading to reduce the transmission, and help health care workers get through the next few months.

“Please, get vaccinated,” said Forrest.

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Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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