Cardiac surgeries in Hamilton cancelled as ICUs cope with surging COVID-19 cases

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Published September 14, 2021 at 7:53 am

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Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) reported on Monday (Sept. 13) that cardiac surgeries were cancelled one day last week because the fourth wave of COVID-19 is straining health-care resources.

In a press release, HHS said that on Friday (Sept. 10), ‘seven of the eight extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) patients were unvaccinated, and cardiac surgeries were cancelled because of limited resources.’

HHS explains that unvaccinated individuals are being hospitalized ‘unnecessarily’ and the influx of patients and the severity of their illness is limiting the ability of HHS staff and physicians to respond to the needs of other patients.

“Although 20 per cent of eligible population of Ontario are unvaccinated, they represent 80 per cent of hospitalizations and nearly 90 per cent of ICU patients,” said Dr. Sunjay Sharma, Medical Director at the Hamilton General ICU.

“It is very clear that being fully vaccinated significantly decreases your risk of getting seriously sick and hospitalized from COVID-19 – as well as decreases the chance of our hospitals being overwhelmed.”

As of Monday, HHS hospitals reported that they were treating 37 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19, 15 of which are in ICU.

Physicians and other health-care workers, HHS said in the release, are getting increasingly frustrated.

“Those choosing to be unvaccinated are endangering others and themselves – they don’t need to be sick and in hospital,” said Dr. Craig Ainsworth, Director of the Cardiac Care Unit at Hamilton General Hospital.

“My colleagues and I are fully vaccinated, we support hospital policy and expect that everyone will follow the science. It’s the right thing to do.”

Hamilton’s vaccination rates continue to lag behind much of the rest of the province, with 65.1 per cent of the city’s total population having received two doses to date.

The news of the cancelled surgeries comes as protests against COVID-19 measures were staged outside hospitals across the country on Monday.

HHS condemned the protests and their impact on health-care workers already worn down by the pandemic.

“HHS condemns the harassment of medical and health-care professionals imposed by these protests, as well as the misinformation they perpetuate,” said Dr. Michael Stacey, Executive Vice President, Academic and Chief Medical Executive.

“Our health-care professionals should never be the target of emotional distress and moral injury by protesters. On the contrary, they should be praised for their tireless efforts in supporting our patients throughout this pandemic.”

Hospitals and urgent care clinics are safe for everyone who needs care, HHS said, and patients are urged to please continue to attend appointments, diagnostics tests, cancer screenings, etc.

“Patients will be contacted directly by their surgeon or a member of their care team if there is a change to their planned care,” the release said.

“Please receive the vaccine as soon as you are eligible. Being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best prevention against serious illness, hospitalization and death.”

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