Prince Rupert Regional Hospital has received it’s first COVID-19 transfer of patients from Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace on Jan. 7. (Nothern View file photo)

Prince Rupert Regional Hospital has received it’s first COVID-19 transfer of patients from Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace on Jan. 7. (Nothern View file photo)

Overwhelmed Mills Memorial Hospital now sending COVID-19 patients to P.R.

Northern Health said COVID-19 transfers are all part of the plan

COVID-19 patients are now being transferred to Prince Rupert Regional Hospital from Mills Memorial Hospital, with the first two arriving on Jan. 7. The Terrace hospital and staff are overwhelmed by the case numbers and have a lack of available beds in the allocated regional pandemic treatment facility.

The pandemic curve is trending upwards and it is distressing news, Eryn Collins communications manager for Northern Health told The Northern View.

“As that curve goes up, so to do the pressures on, not just our acute care resources, but on our public health resources,” Collins said. “So we really need to turn it back in the direction that we’d rather see it going.”

Mills Memorial Hospital is one of three COVID-19 emergency response centers in the Northern Health region and has been under pressure on acute care since December, Collins said. They are treating patients not just from the west, but from municipalities from the east of Terrace, such as Smithers, and also from the south.

Residents of Prince Rupert should not be alarmed by the transfers to the city’s hospital, as it is all part of the COVID-19 response plan, Collins said.

Mills Memorial has five intensive care unit beds, six infectious disease unit beds, five ventilators, and two transport ventilators. With increases of COVID-19 cases through-out the region the beds are now full, however, it must be kept in mind that the ICU beds are also required for critical medical conditions other than COVID-19, Collins said.

While Prince Rupert is not a designated COVID-19 hospital, it does have a dedicated area where patients affected by the virus can be placed in a cohort and treated.

“Prince Rupert Regional Hospital does have the capability to ventilate for a limited period of time,” Collins said.

“So part of our COVID planning was making it very clear to people that all of our sites, including Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, had identified areas where if need be, they would be able to care for and manage COVID positive patients relative to the hospital’s level of care.”

Hospitals in Terrace, Prince George, and Fort St. John were identified as the primary COVID-19 treatment sites because they have a higher level of care available than other hospitals in the north.

“If the patient required a higher level of care, then the system activates, to transfer those patients to (a facility) based on their care needs, but also based on what capacity exists.”

“Each of our hospitals has that ability and that capacity. They’re all part of this provincial plan that’s been in place since very early on in the pandemic.”

“We have confirmed previously that we’ve transferred patients not only between our own Northern Health hospitals because they do have varying levels of care but also to other health regions of BC. That potential has existed and still exists because of where we are with our current COVID cases and hospitalizations,” Collins said.

In a December statement, Nothern Health said across all of the hospitals in the region there are 41 critical care ‘base’ beds, and an additional 23 ‘surge’ critical care beds (surge capacity can be scaled up or down, depending on need).

“There approximately 100 ventilators available to support critical care, including transport ventilators (this number is approximate as additional ventilators continue to arrive and are put into service). All NH sites have transport ventilators; there is also a provincial supply of ventilators that can be deployed to areas of need.”

K-J Millar | Journalist 
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