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Ontario hospitals calling for more help in COVID-19 fight, warning ICU space will be gone in weeks

Last Updated Apr 3, 2021 at 2:24 pm EDT

The OMA says "Please do not call your doctor to book an appointment for the vaccine; we need to keep phone lines open for sick patients who have immediate questions for their health-care providers." Walter Otto

The Ontario Hospital Association says it’s getting close to running out of ICU space.

While it welcomes the province-wide shut down, the OHA is pleading with the public to help it in the fight against COVID-19.

OHA President Anthony Dale says in an ideal world, the association would re-deploy the province’s vaccine strategy, “and bulldoze vaccines into the communities where we know COVID-19 is out of control.”

“So in the GTA, that is Peel Region, York Region, parts of northwest Toronto, Scarborough, Halton, and down into Hamilton,” Dale says, “with these public health measures important as they are, focusing on a vaccine strategy that targets the areas where the growth of COVID-19 is out of control is a necessary strategy — an urgent one.”

Dale says the province needs to move away from mass vaccination sites — and mobilize vaccines instead,Β “and get them really, right to the front door of people in those high-risk communities, really offer the vaccine to them person to person. Have people who can communicate in all the languages that we know are in the Greater Toronto Area, in a position to answer their questions, deal with people who maybe afraid of the vaccine because they shouldn’t be — it’s a miracle of modern science and it will ultimately be the way that we leave this pandemic.”

Paid sick leave for essential workers is a way to help stop community spread of the virus, Dale says, because they’re more likely to be exposed to the virus.

RELATED: Ontario tops 3,000 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, ICU numbers reach pandemic high

“Sick pay is a way of saying to them ‘if you are sick, or if you feel and fear you are sick, don’t come to work, please take care of yourself, self isolate,’ and what we’re saying as a society is ‘we will make sure that you don’t lose income, that you can continue to feed your family, continue to pay rent, it’s a clear solution that should be in place on a comprehensive basis,” Dale says.

“The hospitals in Ontario are begging you for help. Ontario’s hospitals, especially in the Greater Toronto Area at the moment, are facing a looming catastrophe, and unless the spread of COVID-19 slows down in the community — in a matter of weeks we will be unable to care for everyone who needs equal access to intensive care units. Full stop.”

Dale is pleading with Ontarians to follow health measures, including physical distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands, and staying home as much as you can.

“Join this war effort and help Ontario’s hospitals navigate the next several weeks, which I assure you will shock you,” Dale says, “we are preparing for a worst case scenario in Ontario’s hospitals — a case where we have no more intensive care units… so that means physicians in particular, potentially facing choices that no physician should ever have to make.”

“I wish, if I could, I could touch on the shoulder 14.5-million people and help them really understand right now just how important their individual choices are. This is the single biggest crisis facing Ontario’s hospitals in their modern history. We are saying to you that we are, at this rate, probably going to run out of intensive care unit space in a matter of weeks.”

If you have plans for Easter dinner or to gather with people indoors, outside of your household, Dale says cancel them.

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