Canadian Children’s Hospitals Strained by New COVID-19 Wave

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa which usually sees up to 150 patients each day during this time of year is expecting two times more patients due to the new COVID-19 wave. 

Tammy DeGiovanni, CHEO’s senior vice president of clinical services and chief nurse executive, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that about two-thirds of those children have COVID symptoms.

Some surgeries at CHEO have also had to be canceled due to the sudden surge of cases.

DeGiovanni pointed out that what’s causing them additional pressure is the lack of manpower since roughly 10 to 15% of them have been off work after manifesting COVID symptoms or have COVID in their household. 

Last April 21, CHEO released a statement on an outbreak of COVID-19 in its 6 East Unit where it involved three people. 

“CHEO’s Infection Prevention and Control program, in collaboration with Ottawa Public Health, declares an outbreak when people (patients, caregivers, staff, and/or medical staff) on the same unit test positive for COVID-19 within a 10-day period where these infections could have reasonably been acquired on the unit,” a portion of the CHEO statement read. 

This scenario is also being felt in other children’s hospitals in Saskatchewan, BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ont., and Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

Vaccination rates among Canadian youth remain low. According to the most recent national data, just 40% of children aged five to eleven are fully vaccinated, while younger children lack access to an approved vaccine.

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