Children’s Hospital in London canceling surgeries

The region’s largest children’s hospital is taking extreme measures in the face of surging capacity and a triple-threat of respiratory viruses hitting children.

Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Center (LHSC) told CTV News London it has begun reducing surgeries by between 50 and 70 per cent, only performing the most critical.

“We had no choice,” said Dr. Ram Singh of the pediatric critical care unit at Children’s Hospital.

“We don’t make these kinds of decisions lightly, we take it very seriously,” he explained. “Any time we are postponing an operation for a child who has been waiting a number of months…it’s not an easy decision. Leaders put their heads together and we thought maybe it’s the best decision we can make at this point in time.”

The hospital said occupancy for inpatient beds at Children’s Hospital sits at 115 per cent — higher than at any time during the pandemic. Emergency room visits are up 80 per cent, and wait times are between six and eight hours.

Dr. Ram Singh of the pediatric critical care unit at LHSC’s Children’s Hospital is seen in London, Ont. on Nov. 22, 2022. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London)

Londoner Tristan Johnson, a new dad with a one-year-old, said it is one more thing for parents to stress over in a long list of health concerns.

“Babies can be very vulnerable to various illnesses and so I am most concerned that we’re going to show up at the ER or something like that and they’re not going to have a bed or something,” said Johnson. “We can’t even get children’s Tylenol at this point.”

LHSC also said it has transferred some patients, aged 14 and older, to the adult intensive care unit to help preserve capacity at Children’s Hospital.

“We haven’t seen this I would say in my working lifetime, and I have been in this business about 30 years,” said Singh.

Like hospitals across Ontario, Children’s Hospital at LHSC is dealing with a surge in cases with three respiratory viruses — COVID-19, influenza and RSV.

Singh urges vaccinations.

Tristan Johnson, as seen on Nov. 22, 2022, is a father to a one-year-old and is concerned about pressures on London, Ont.’s Children’s Hospital. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London)

“Get your child vaccinated, number one,” he said. “There’s no reason to ignore influenza shot. Everyone should get it if you can get it, if there’s no complications. Number two, if your child is sick don’t send them to school, don’t send them to day care. If you are sick, don’t go to work.”

Meanwhile, doting dad Johnson said keeping up with his shots is the least he can do to help the ease burden in health care.

“Some of the things I’m doing are maybe overly cautious, but given that our infrastructure has been pretty toppled by the pandemic, and now by the current surge, I can imagine that anything we can do to play safe is the smarter answer, ” he said.

In the meantime, LHSC said there is no timeline on how long the reduction in surgeries is expected to last.

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