B.C. expands ICU capacity to care for COVID-19 patients from northern B.C.

Northern patients transferred

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the province is opening up intensive care hospital capacity in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to deal with a rise in seriously ill COVID-19 patients from northern B.C.

Dix said Tuesday that 12 patients from the north are already in critical care down south, including nine patients with COVID-19. Ten high acuity ICU beds are being opened in the Lower Mainland and five on the island to help handle the northern caseload.

“We expect the pressure on critical care in the north will continue until vaccination rates go up and cases and hospitalizations go down. We need to reduce pressure on north,” Dix said.

“Clearly this is less than ideal. It will be difficult for those patients and their families and their loved ones, but these are necessary steps to ensure people in the north have access to quality care and to support our healthcare workers in the north to do that.”

There were 53 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Northern Health region as of Monday, including 20 listed in critical care.

Peace River North MLA Dan Davies is urging residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the Fort St. John Hospital struggles to handle a rise in patients.

“Folks - our hospital is slammed with serious COVID patients (Many have been medivac’d to elsewhere in the province) 90% are not fully vaccinated,” Davies wrote in a post to Facebook on Tuesday morning. "The vaccines work. The science is sound.”

Northern Health is currently managing an outbreak of the virus at the hospital, declared Aug. 27, which infected four patients and three staff, and led to the death of one patient. Two patients have since recovered, according to Northern Health.

There are 307 patients in hospital across B.C., including 156 in critical care, according Dix. Of those in critical care, a “very significant” share of 138 patients are unvaccinated, he said.

“Five per cent of COVID-19 patients in ICU are fully vaccinated, and they represent 80% of the population,” Dix said.

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