OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Hospital is cancelling non-emergent surgeries and procedures and moving non-COVID-19 patients to other hospitals in the region as the virus continues to put a strain on the health care system.

The hospital has implemented its Level 2 surge plans to increase bed capacity and free up staff to treat the increasing number of COVID patients.

Speaking on CTV Morning Live Thursday morning, Ottawa Hospital Chief of Staff Dr. Virginia Roth said all hospitals are facing an "unprecedented challenge" during the third wave of the pandemic.

"What we found is we're needing to redeploy our staff; so we know patients need surgery, we know our backlogs will grow because of this and that's heart-rending to see, but right now our focus really is on providing acute care and critical care to patients who need it," said Roth.

This week, Ontario's chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams issued a directive for hospitals to halt all non-emergent surgeries and non-urgent procedures immediately. The move came after Ontario Health instructed hospitals to ramp down elective surgeries earlier this month to create more capacity for hospital.

The Ottawa Hospital has accepted 12 COVID-19 patients from other hospitals across the province, but has also moved non-COVID patients to other hospitals in the region to accommodate demand.

"The health care system looks very, very different now. So the hospital that you think you might get your care may not be the hospital where you're admitted," said Roth, adding all hospitals in the Ottawa area are functioning as a "single hospital."

"Under pandemic orders, the Ottawa Hospital has transferred about 30 patients to hospitals across the region. We continue to work together, both as a provincial health system but also as a very close regional partnership."

On Thursday, Ottawa Public Health reported 120 people in Ottawa-area hospitals with COVID-19 related illnesses.

"Hospitals care for much, much more than pandemic that's a portion of what we see. So we continue to have patients with heart problems, breathing problems, urgent surgeries, deliveries, that kind of thing," Roth said.

"This is really about working as a system together, and we ensure that the hospital where you're going to can provide the kind of care that you need. So you will get excellent care, it may not be within the city of Ottawa."

CTV Morning Live host Annette Goerner asked Roth if doctors may have to start making tough decisions on who receives care as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise.

"I think right now our focus really is on increasing capacity. So we're going into our surge plans, all hospitals are doing that across the province, so we can add beds, we can redeploy staff and make sure that you know that the beds are there when you need it," said Roth.

"I also want to say that hospitals are not full of COVID, so if you need hospital care – you know you have a heart attack, you have a stroke, you have an injury of some kind – please come to hospitals. We've got very strict protocols in place to keep you safe."

Last week, the Ottawa Hospital said it had enough surge capacity to be able to care for upwards of 220 COVID-19 patients.