Two people infected with COVID-19 from the province’s Northern Health region are currently being cared for at a Victoria hospital.
According to Elin Bjarnason, vice-president of clinical care with Island Health, the two patients were airlifted to Royal Jubilee Hospital because hospitals in Northern Health are at capacity.
“They were in critical care, and they were admitted here to the ICU,” Bjarnason said.
It’s not uncommon for COVID-19 patients to be transferred between health regions as it is part of the province’s pandemic response plan.
Dr. David Forrest, infectious disease and critical care physician at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, said patients in the Northern Health region are often referred to Prince George or treatment, but that isn’t possible because it’s at capacity. He also said Island Health currently has the capacity to take patients from other parts of the province, at least for now.
“I think there is a genuine fear that we are going to be in big trouble here,” Forrest said.
There are three hospitals within Island Health that have COVID-19 units – Royal Jubilee, Victoria General, and Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Island Health also has 96 intensive care unit beds and 140 ventilators.
Furthermore, each COVID-19 patient also needs a single room – or a room with cohorts – and is assigned a team of specialists.
Forrest said it wouldn’t take much to overwhelm the healthcare system, particularly if the numbers continue to climb within Island Health.
“Clearly, the trend is fairly exponential growth right now,” he said.