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CHEO describes 'weekend like no other' as patient counts surge

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CHEO says it has seen “a spring weekend like no other” in its 48-year history as its emergency department fills with patients, leaving the hospital short on beds.

In a lengthy thread on Twitter, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario say a higher than average number of young people are coming in to the hospital since Friday with “viruses, trauma, and injuries that are more severe than normal,” but there are no free beds for them.

“Over the last six weeks, our in-patient medical wards have been packed. Again, with more young people than normal who are sicker than normal. COVID, flu, surgeries, and many other causes – all that are keeping kids in hospital for overnight stays,” CHEO said.

Influenza cases have seen a rare spring surge in Canada following the easing of public health measures meant to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. The Public Health Agency of Canada reported more than 1,300 flu cases across the country between May 29 and June 4 of this year. Last year, there was a single case between May 23 and June 19.

PHAC also says that while the number of reported influenza-associated pediatric hospitalizations has decreased in recent weeks, it remains above levels typical of this time of year.

CHEO is reporting its busiest May ever for its emergency department and June could also be a record-breaking month for admissions.

“Yesterday, for the first time anyone can recall, we had *16* patients who were admitted that didn’t have a bed to go to. So, they stayed in ‘emerg.’ Some for almost 48 hours.”

This had a “gridlock effect” CHEO says. People coming to emergency who didn’t need immediate care had lengthy waits and some planned procedures for the coming week had to be cancelled or rescheduled.

“Obviously, we don’t do this lightly. It pains us to do. But that is the reality. We simply have more people needing care right now than we have space, beds, and people,” CHEO said.

Hospital officials are urging families to consider alternatives to the emergency department, such as family doctors or walk-in clinics, where possible; however, patients will not be turned away.

“If you do need to come to CHEO, our staff and medical staff will do everything in their power to get the world-class, timely care you deserve,” CHEO says. “Our frontline folks are always here for you. That hasn’t changed in 48 years and never will. Again, if you need to come to CHEO, please do.”

You can check CHEO’s website for advice on when your child requires a trip to the hospital.

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