OTTAWA -- Hospitals in Ottawa and across eastern Ontario are actively building critical care bed capacity in the event of a surge in COVID-19 patients in the Ottawa region.

But the medical director for emergency management at the Ottawa Hospital says residents following physical distancing guidelines and other measures will make sure there is capacity for all patients requiring care.

Ottawa Public Health reported Friday that 25 people who tested positive for COVID-19 are currently in hospital, including seven in the ICU.

There are approximately 3,400 hospital beds and critical care beds available across the Champlain Health region, which covers Ottawa and eastern Ontario.

“We have the capacity as a region to surge up to approximately 304 critical care ventilated beds. We are actually actively working on increasing that capacity as we speak,” said Dr. Andrew Willmore during a teleconference with reporters on Friday afternoon.

Data released from the Ontario Government on Friday said there was currently 410 available ICU beds across Ontario for COVID-19 patients in addition to beds currently filled with COVID-19 patients. There are plans to add 900 additional ICU beds for COVID-19 patients.

When asked if Ottawa has enough beds available in the event of a surge in the next little bit, Dr. Willmore said “certainly in the next little bit.”

Dr. Willmore says hospitals look at “worst-case scenarios” as they prepare contingency plans.

“This is a modifiable curve. The things that make sure that we have sufficient capacity are the things that we’re doing in terms of the ways we’re changing how we’re interacting with others in society,” said Dr. Willmore.

“Physical distancing, self-isolation if you’re symptomatic, following the advice of public health - that is what makes sure the capacity that we have will be sufficient.  We will continue to build our surge, but it is critical that the public continue to follow public health advice.”

COVID-19 Patient Flow

Hospitals across the Champlain Local Health Region have launched a new initiative to optimize the movement of patients with COVID-19 through the health care sector.

Dr. Willmore says it’s called “Patient Flow”

“As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve locally, we have developed a regional patient flow strategy that will allow patients to be cared for in the most appropriate centre given their unique care needs.”

Dr. Willmore says hospitals across Ottawa and eastern Ontario will transfer COVID-19 positive patients who need acute or critical care to a select number of designated hospitals that have units for COVID-19 patients.

The doctor adds the mandate of “Patient Flow” is to make sure no area of the health care system becomes overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our goal is to optimize the entire health care system in the region,” said Dr. Willmore.

“This will ensure that we are ready for a surge of patients requiring care for COVID-19, while ensuring we continue to provide services to the many patients requiring care unrelated to the pandemic.”