Ontario’s COVID-19 cases were on a sharp incline this winter, overcrowding hospitals and leaving patients in hallways and exhausting medical staff.
Premier Doug Ford issued a province-wide stay-at-home order in an attempt to decrease COVID-19 cases on Dec. 26.
“This difficult action is without a doubt necessary to save lives and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” Ford told the media five days earlier.
With more than 200,000 cases in Ontario, hospitals are struggling to provide appropriate space and beds for the massive number of patients coming in each day.
“The situation of COVID-19 in a hospital setting is getting worse,” said Nadine Young, a nurse at Etobicoke General Hospital near Humber College. “With increased volumes and increased acuity of patients, the hospital is feeling the pressure to treat everyone as safe and as fast as possible.”
Ford announced that Ontario will inject $125 million to support hospitals as the number of COVID-19 patients peak. High-risk hospitals will receive 500 critical care beds to assist with the influx of COVID-19 patients.
A significant amount of the funding will be allocated towards Mackenzie Health’s Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital to act as a resource support centre for Ontario’s high rate of COVID-19 cases. It will officially open on Feb. 7 and is expected to ease the stress of healthcare works and decrease patient crowding in hospitals.
The hospital will open with 185 beds, which will include more than 35 critical care beds and 150 general internal medicine beds for patients.
“This hospital will take in critical care patients from surrounding hospitals to help ease capacity pressures around COVID-19,” Ford said.
Healthcare workers are still under a lot of stress while trying to care not only for patients but for themselves.
“Mental illness among healthcare workers is a major concern,” Young said. “A caregiver burnout can cause physical and mental stress that may lead a healthcare worker to be out of commission.”
Because of the extensive amount of stress healthcare workers are going through, there are services at Ontario hospitals that help staff deal with stress or mental health issues they may be experiencing.
“Many nurses are overwhelmed, stressed and exhausted,” Marianna Melcore-Giugni, a long-term healthcare worker said. “There has always been resources for nurses. They can be found at their workplace and nursing organization.”
Although the Ontario government has issued strict restrictions to decrease COVID-19 cases, the public has continued to disregard government orders which has led to a surge of cases.
“It’s not how the government case ease the strain,” Melcore-Giugni said. “It’s how people should be following public health recommendations to ease the strain.”