Canada

COVID: GTA hospital pediatric units close, patients being transferred to Toronto’s SickKids hospital

TORONTO — The Ontario Hospital Association says nearly all Greater Toronto Area hospitals are closing their pediatric units to help accommodate a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Association President Anthony Dale says 12 out of 14 GTA hospitals will send their pediatric patients to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children for care.

Dale says the closure, which takes effect today, was ordered over the weekend by the GTA Hospital Incident Management System Command Centre.

Read more: COVID-19: Ontario hospitals ramp down elective surgeries to increase ICU capacity

He says hospital staff from the pediatric units will be redeployed to care for a rising number of COVID-19 patients.

“Every time when we are going through discussion of how we can help our adult colleagues, we only agree to capacity changes that we are fully fully confident in being able to provide safe care for all the children,” Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO of Toronto’s SickKids hospital told Global News.

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“Many of the plans you are seeing implemented right now we planned for literally a year ago.” he continued. “The discussion around this decision has occurred more intensely within the last two weeks, and then at the end of last week the decision was made.”

Dale says SickKids has also opened eight of its intensive care beds to young adults with the virus.

Ontario reported 612 patients with COVID-19 in intensive care units today, setting another new high.

Dale said hospitals across Ontario are experiencing a capacity crunch unlike anything they’ve ever seen because of a spike in cases of COVID-19 variants.

“We are in a true crisis and this is the battle of a lifetime,” he said in an interview Monday. “This virus has got Ontario under attack. We’re under siege in terms of community spread.”

Read more: Ontario reports 4,401 COVID-19 cases, another record of ICU patients

Overall, the province reported 4,401 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 15 new deaths due to the virus.

Elliott said there were 1,282 new cases in Toronto, 772 in Peel Region, 564 in York Region, 339 in Ottawa and 224 in Durham.

Ontario administered 74,722 doses of the vaccine since its last daily update, with 3,214,465 vaccines given in total.

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With files from Global News Katherine Ward

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