A hospital in Ottawa has declared an “internal code orange” due to staff shortages caused by COVID-19.
A spokesman for Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) confirmed the protocol to Global News on Thursday, a day after the hospital announced it would slow down some services due to staff shortages.
An internal code orange prepares staff to potentially be relocated to work in other areas of the hospital or get mandated to work “if absolutely necessary,” said spokeswoman Caroline Hafner.
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The protocol differs from a general “Code Orange”, which signals a disaster in society that requires urgent treatment of a large number of people, affecting the operation of the hospital.
“Staff is the primary challenge facing the hospital,” QCH said in a statement.
The hospital currently has more than 40 employees who tested positive for COVID-19, primarily from household contact, “creating staff shortages in several areas.”
To address the shortcoming, QCH will relocate staff from other departments who will “lower services” in outpatient care, therapeutic services, endo / cysto and other areas. QCH will also only perform acute and cancer surgeries this week.
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Occupancy at the hospital on Wednesday morning was 107 percent, which according to the hospital is not “unusually high” for this time of year.
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However, the hospital has 141 percent occupancy in medicine and has 150 patients in isolation.
“We appreciate how difficult this is for our patients whose care needs may be delayed,” Kerry Cook, vice president of patient care, said in a statement.
“Please be aware, this is not a decision that has been made lightly. The team is working very hard to provide the highest quality care and to return to normal operation as soon as we can.”
The hospital warns that those entering the emergency room may face “longer than usual” waiting times.
Ottawa on Thursday reported 683 COVID-19 cases as the province recorded 13,807 new cases within the last 24 hours – a new record.
The province currently has 965 admissions due to the virus, an increase of 239 from the day before, with 200 patients in intensive care units.
Ontario also reduced the required isolation period for fully vaccinated individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to five days after the onset of symptoms on Thursday.
– with files from Global News’ Gabby Rodrigues
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