Mississauga hospitals officially at capacity as COVID-19 surges in the city


Although there has been a great deal of discussion around Mississauga's slightly better COVID-19 picture in Peel (with some councillors calling for the city to leave lockdown earlier than Brampton), it does appear that Mississauga's hospitals are slightly over-capacity.

According to Trillium Health Partners (THP), the organization that operates the Mississauga Hospital and Credit Valley Hospital, the health care facilities are full, which is not necessarily unprecedented in and of itself. 

"As of Thursday, November 26, Trillium Health Partners (THP) is at 101 per cent capacity across all sites," Keeley Rogers, a THP spokesperson, told insauga.com in an email. 

Rogers said that THP experiences increasing demand for services every fall and winter and that it is not unusual for it to reach or exceed capacity, adding that THP regularly experiences some of the highest patient volumes in the province and is one of three hospitals that has been caring for the greatest number of patients with COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. 

"We are currently caring for 65 patients with COVID-19," Rogers said, adding that planned surgeries and procedures are continuing as scheduled. 

At a Nov. 25 press conference, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said that although residents and businesses are no doubt disappointed about being back in lockdown, she defended the move as necessary to protect the health care system and people living in congregate settings. 

"This is not where any of us want to be and this is particularly devastating for our small business community, as most have had to move online and to curbside pickup and delivery right as the holiday season approaches and begins to ramp up. The reality is that COVID-19 cases in hospitals have risen sharply in Mississauga over the last month," Crombie told reporters.

"This decision [to go into lockdown] was made in an effort to avoid school closures, avoid further spread to our long-term care homes, to avoid overburdening our already at-capacity hospitals and most importantly, it was made to limit preventable deaths in Mississauga."

According to Crombie, 11 COVID patients are being treated in ICUs in Mississauga and 114 patients in THP hospitals are suspected of having COVID-19. 

"That’s 175 rooms allocated for just COVID or COVID suspected cases," Crombie said. 

Crombie said that she was encouraged by a slight drop in new case numbers, telling reporters that the city dropped from 117 cases per 100,000 to 100 cases per 100,000. As of now, Mississauga's test positivity rate sits at 6.9 per cent—a little lower than the regional average. 

That said, the mayor told reporters that Mississauga's numbers are still high overall and that the city cannot make a convincing case for leaving lockdown at this juncture. 

"[We] are still well above the provincial average. We are seeing more and more spread to our most vulnerable communities and our residents in congregate settings," Crombie said, adding that 16 of Mississauga’s long-term care homes are now an outbreak, along with seven retirement homes and four group homes. 

According to Peel Public Health's website, long-term care homes in outbreak include Tyndall Seniors Village Nursing Home (which has been temporarily taken over by Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington), Erin Mills Lodge Nursing Home, Malton Village, Silverthorn Care Community, Extendicare Mississauga, Cooksville Care Community and others. 

Over the past few days, Crombie has come under pressure to press both Peel's Medical Officer of Health and the province to take a more "surgical" approach to contain the spread, with several city councillors arguing that widespread closures are not appropriate when only certain Peel neighbourhoods are seeing concerningly high case positivity rates.

At a Nov. 26 regional council meeting, Ward 5 Councillor Carolyn Parrish pressed for more targeted closures, arguing that the current blanket lockdown will simply frustrate residents in lower-transmission neighbourhoods and prompt them to ignore public health recommendations. 

"Why are we all impacted when only some parts of Mississauga [are seeing high cases]? Why can't we do this by LHIN (Local Health Integration Network)?," Parrish asked Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel's Medical Officer of Health. 

"You're missing people who understand human nature on your team. I know you're working hard, the mayors are working hard, everyone is working hard, but people are suffering out here and they're starting to break loose. Oakville is having a boom year. You can't get a reservation there, the [restaurants are] full of Mississauga people. Stores there are making a boom year for Christmas. It's starting to get to me and I'm a rule follower." 

Loh told Parrish that people who are most worried about what's open and closed are not seeing the reality in the region's hospitals, adding that putting specific neighbourhoods in lockdown would "present significant challenges." 

"We all agree this is incredibly frustrating and I think I've been clear that this disease cannot spread if people are not meeting…the closures are trying to get things under control in the short term," Loh said.

"If a virus runs loose as it has in some parts of the US, businesses close anyways because people are sick and people are fearful." 

Crombie said she sympathizes with Parrish's view and hopes that the province might agree to allow Mississauga to decrease restrictions if its picture continues to improve.

"I sympathize with Councillor Parrish because we're hearing from our community and if we were on our own and had our own public health unit, we could be carved out. We want to take a surgical approach when a time is right," she said, adding that the time is not right due to the health care challenges facing the city. 

At the earlier press conference, Crombie said that the province has promised to look at Peel's—and Mississauga's—data regularly. 

"I know COVID fatigue is setting in and I completely understand that everyone has already had to make huge sacrifices and we now have been asked to make even more. The provincial restrictions in place are temporary measures. The premier has given me his word that he will be reviewing our case numbers every two weeks to determine the path forward for our city and for our region, and I want to thank everyone in Mississauga who is doing their part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

As of now, Mississauga is slated to remain in lockdown until at least Dec. 21, with the possibility of measures being extended four (or more) additional weeks beyond that date. 

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