Dr Tony O’Leary, medical director of intensive care at Nova Scotia Health, says models suggest the city’s intensive care units could approach capacity by mid-May
According to Dr. Tony O’Leary, medical director of intensive care at Nova Scotia Health, the models suggest that the city’s intensive care units may be approaching capacity by mid-May.
He says at that point, patients may need to be transferred to hospitals outside of Halifax with spare intensive care beds.
“If the public follows the public health measures now and in the weeks to come, it will make the difference between who needs to be transferred to the province because we have reached our capacity in the core area,” O’Leary said in an interview. Tuesday.
As of Monday, Nova Scotia had 943 active cases of COVID-19 – most in the Halifax area – and models predict that up to 10% of those infected will require hospitalization, with around 3% of the total requiring intensive care .
O’Leary says if modeling confirms it will put pressure on the city’s intensive care units, but he predicts they can handle the outbreak if people strictly adhere to public health guidelines in the weeks to come. .
The doctor says the city’s system has a capacity of around 28 intensive care beds and can expand that capacity up to 44 beds.
However, he says his teams are preparing for a possible tripling of the city’s current level of seven COVID-19 patients currently in intensive care to between 20 and 25 patients in seven to 10 days.
The doctor says the ability of intensive care staff to handle the pandemic outbreak will depend on the number of other extremely ill patients in need of intensive care, as well as the rate at which COVID-19 patients are referred and cured.
O’Leary says that once the Halifax system reaches about 85% of its capacity and if there is a constant flow of COVID-19 referrals, it would trigger the transfer of patients to some of the other hospitals in the province.
The intensive care doctor said the Nova Scotia system is well prepared for this possibility.
“The idea is that if a patient needs a bed, they will have it. It might not be at their nearest hospital if we’re very full, but the plan is in place to use all critical beds as a provincial resource, ”he said.
Overall, Nova Scotia Health estimates it has 245 beds for COVID-19 patients in the province, many of whom will not need intensive care but will need to be hospitalized.
There are a total of 93 intensive care beds in the province for COVID-19 and other patients, with a plan to increase that number to 133 if needed.
O’Leary noted that intensive care treatments have evolved considerably since the first wave of cases a year ago.
Critical care teams will now delay putting patients on ventilation, instead using methods to keep them a high flow of oxygen, and in some cases patients are encouraged to turn onto their stomachs to help breathing, a method known as “proning,” explained the doctor.
Combinations of the steroid drug dexamethasone and the antiviral drug remdesivir are used to reduce the need for mechanical ventilation and to shorten recovery times.
“I think we can save more lives,” O’Leary said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 4, 2021.
Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press