Is Delta Hospital equipped to handle a surge of COV-19 patients?
It seems it will come down to what kind of scenario plays out during the pandemic.
Not having an intensive care unit of its own, Delta Hospital is designated as a primary care, Level II community hospital.
As well, it has a rapid access clinic that provides some specialized care, as well as 58 acute care beds.
The emergency room has 10 acute beds, 10 observation beds, three ambulance bays, plus two negative pressure rooms, two fast track chairs and a trauma room providing care 24 hours.
The surgical daycare program, meanwhile, includes 13 pre-and post- operation care beds, six post-anesthetic recovery bays, according to the hospital foundation.
Hospital executive director Tera O’Callaghan said the hospital can provide full medical care up to the point of requiring critical care and/or breathing support.
The hospital will treat and stabilize anyone requiring airway support and then transfer them to one of the designated centres.
What’s more, seniors are most vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19 and Delta’s population is currently made up of roughly 20 per cent in that age group, higher than the average for Metro Vancouver and the province. Delta’s seniors live predominantly in Ladner and Tsawwassen, according to the city’s social profile.
The province has also been working with B.C. Ambulance on a plan to move patients between hospitals if needed
While Fraser Health couldn’t provide an exact breakdown which hospitals have how many ventilators, the region noted, overall, there are 1,272 ventilators in B.C.
Fraser Health has the most of any health authority with 409, while Vancouver Coastal Health has the second most at 216.
The province has already begun preparing for a possible worst-case scenario by clearing out hospital beds by cancelling elective surgeries, as well as getting ready to move ventilators around the province.
Last week, deputy health minister Stephen Brown explained worst-case scenario modelling, saying the demand for critical care equipment could outstrip the province's supply in a worst-case situation.
If that were to happen, the province would be short an estimated 1,778 acute care beds with Fraser Health short over 800 beds.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry noted they won’t know if they have enough ventilators but by moving around patients and ventilators, for now, they have enough.
Seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie told the Optimist that the province taking over coordination of the overall pandemic plan, rather than having the health authorities operating independently, will make a big difference.
“It’s one provincial health system now. It’s one provincial workforce we will deploy. It’s one provincial set of ventilators we can move around. It’s one provincial set of ICU beds and we will get people where they need to go,” she said.
“If somebody say, ‘Well, at our hospital we have only four ventilators and that other hospital has 10,’ I’d say don’t worry about that, they will be centrally managed. Every hospital may end up being short but you won’t have a case where you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
At last week’s virtual town hall hosted by Mayor George Harvie, which also had Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon and police chief Neil Dubord, Kahlon answered a question posed whether Delta Hospital is prepared to deal with COVID-19 cases, or would those patients have to be sent to larger facilities.
Kahlon said the ICU status in Fraser Health, overall, is at about 80 per cent, and during flu season it’s running at about 100 per cent, so there’s currently some capacity in the existing system, while fewer people are attending ER rooms than usual.
He also noted all elective surgeries had been cancelled to free up around 3,700 intensive care beds.
As far as equipment, he said there’s enough for the time being and orders have been placed for more with the federal government having taken over and coordinating procurement.
He added the province also told cities to review all their facilities to see what could be available to local health authorities in case additional places are requred if the worst-case scenario plays out.
Harvie said the city has already been working with Delta Hospital to coordinate having additional space.
He told the Optimist that could include now vacant recreation centres housing patients.
“I know our hospital and Fraser Health have a very robust plan and the province has asked us to send them a list of areas it can expand into. Of course, we have our rec centres closed, so those are obvious ones for us on the list we can give them. The province is planning for the worst, and you have to,” added Harvie.
He said those facilities had already been identified as part of Delta pandemic plan.
The province is hopeful measures underway, including public social distancing, will result in a "flattening the curve” of new coronavirus cases.