Hospitals mobilizing to save lives as third wave intensifies

Statement from Anthony Dale, President and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association

“With the number of hospitalizations and admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) rising sharply, Ontario hospitals are doing everything they can to redeploy personnel and resources to save lives. Hospitals continue to operate in a state of emergency, and the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) is asking for patience and the full support of the people of Ontario in the difficult weeks that lie ahead.

Hospitalizations and ICU occupancy are now at the highest levels they’ve been since the start of the pandemic. Over the past two weeks, there’s been a 67 per cent increase in hospitalizations and a 51 per cent growth in ICU occupancy. Today, there are 692 adult patients with COVID-related illness in adult critical care with 74 new patients admitted yesterday. Under all scenarios modeled by the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, the number of patients in ICU will surpass 800 within the next two weeks.


This is the most serious civil emergency in the history of Ontario. The situation now rapidly unfolding in Ontario hospitals is one that the OHA has been working very hard to avoid since the pandemic began. But this crisis is now worsening, and Ontario’s hospitals will continue to demonstrate leadership and a deep and unwavering commitment to the needs of patients. Our message to every single healthcare professional is one of enormous gratitude. We know the substantial hardship being placed on each of you as this crisis unfolds. While some may be fearful of what is to come, you are highly skilled and have a deep commitment to patient care, and you are surrounded by an enormous team – a team who is there to support you.

In the weeks ahead, as growing numbers of patients with COVID-related illness are admitted to Ontario hospitals, it will be impossible for hospitals to provide non-urgent/scheduled health services at anywhere near normal levels. In collaboration with Ontario Heath and the Ministry of Health, hospitals have started ramping down non-urgent surgeries and procedures to divert resources and redeploy staff to other higher priority areas of the hospital. The sector continues to take a ‘Team Ontario’ approach to critical care by relying on the leadership of the Provincial Critical Care Command Table and the practice of transferring patients out of hotspots regions. Additional capacity in critical care is being created through redeployment but there is a limit to what can be done. It will take the cooperation and support of all hospitals to respond to this historic crisis.

The OHA recognizes all too well the ongoing consequences of strict public health measures on businesses and workers. On behalf of Ontario hospitals, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Please know that through your sacrifices, you are helping to reduce pressure on Ontario’s hospitals and prevent unnecessary harm and death among the people of Ontario.

As stated today by Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, the disease is complicated but the playbook for every resident of Ontario is clear. Over the next six weeks, it’s vital that every Ontarian continue to do their part to follow all public health measures to reduce exposure to COVID-19: stay home if possible, wear a mask indoors and outdoors, maintain physical distance around others, and get vaccinated when it becomes available.”