The impact of high case counts on hospital bed occupancy in Vancouver.

hospital bed covid

Health Minister Adrian Dix expressed concern over the bed capacity of  hospitals in Vancouver. The increase in numbers of COVID-19 patients reaching ICUs is beginning to affect the overall system. Minister Dix provided an update on how COVID-19 hospitalizations are putting a strain on the capacities of some hospitals in Metro Vancouver. There are a total of 11,394 beds, which include both base beds and COVID-19 surge beds. At present, with only 3,314 of these vacant, the occupancy rate is 72.2%. There are a total of 9,934 base beds across the hospital system, out of which 876 are vacant, representing an occupancy rate of 90.7%. In critical care,the total occupancy rate including base and surge beds, is 54.5%. The total number of vacant beds in critical care is 353. There are 122 vacant base beds and the occupancy rate of base beds in critical care is at 77.3%.

According to Minister Dix, there are particular concerns at Vancouver General, Lions Gate and Surrey Memorial hospitals, with bed occupancy close to 100 %.

Dix said that although hospital occupancy was manageable, because of the near 100 % occupancy in key Metro Vancouver hospitals, steps have been taken to help hospital staff. Those steps include redeploying eight critical-care trained nurses to support the Fraser Health Authority, home to Surrey Memorial, and putting a temporary halt to some surgeries at Surrey, Abbotsford and Royal Columbian hospitals. The daily occupancy will be monitored and, if needed, there will be redeployment of staff. However, this would not be like last year when scheduled surgeries were cancelled en masse. This time, cancelled surgeries would be targeted and would happen for as short a period as possible.

With cases on the rise, Dr Bonnie Henry told British Columbians to stay as close to home as possible. “ So if you live in North Vancouver, you should not be travelling to Langley or to Richmond. If you live in the lower mainland, you should not be travelling to the island. If you live in Penticton you should not be going to Oliver or Kelowna right now. We need to do only those types of travel if it’s essential and nothing more,” she said.

With hospitalizations soaring, it is more necessary than ever that we stay safe and take precautions such as wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, practicing physical distancing, cleaning our hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue.

                                           Bartika Dutta

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