Hamilton paramedics will stop taking low-risk COVID-19 patients to the hospital

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Published January 6, 2022 at 1:26 pm

The Hamilton Paramedic Service is implementing a temporary medical directive to assist with the increasing added pressures the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on hospital emergency departments.

The service believes the directive can reduce hospital admittance by eight patients per day.

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Paramedics are being directed to assess low-risk suspected COVID-19 patients and provide them guidance, resources, and referrals to alternative means of care in the comfort of their homes. Patients who can be safely and appropriately treated in the home, rather than being transported to the hospital will be encouraged to access alternative community resources such as urgent care centres, COVID-19 assessment centres, or walk-in clinics.

The paramedic service says the new directive was developed in collaboration with Hamilton Health Sciences and was approved by the City of Hamilton’s Emergency Operations Centre.

“Regular assessment of the directive and its impact on the healthcare system will be ongoing and remain in place until it is no longer needed,” reads an official media release from the service.

“This measure comes during a rapid surge of cases related to the highly-transmissible Omicron variant, both locally and across the country, and aims to alleviate pressures on the healthcare system by reducing non-critical transports to emergency departments, enabling more resources to be available to treat and respond to life-threatening and critical emergencies.”

The seven-day rolling average of patients assessed using provincial criteria as “suspect COVID-19” by Hamilton paramedics is 44. Based on the approved criteria in the medical directive, it is anticipated that approximately four to eight patients per day may be successfully and safely diverted away from the emergency department.

Hamilton paramedics are responding to an average of 266 dispatch calls a day and the service says response times are getting longer due to an increase in call volumes and pressures on the hospital system.

Hamilton Hamilton Sciences (HHS) reports that 170 people are being treated at its hospitals for COVID-19,. There are 22 individuals being treated in HHS intensive care units (ICU) compared to 25 the day prior.

Hamilton General Hospital is at 101 per cent occupancy. Juravinski Hospital is reporting 116 per cent.

539 HHS staff are self-isolating.

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is reporting that 93 people are being treated for COVID-19 at its hospital. Twelve individuals are in the ICU.

St. Joe’s hospital occupancy is at 92 per cent. ICU occupancy is 85 per cent.

There are currently 281 St. Joe’s employees are self-isolating.

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