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Media statement - Northern Health critical care capacity

Northern Health
Media Bulletin

Northern Health is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 activity and hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients requiring critical care. We are focused on ensuring the health system has capacity to offer quality care to both non-COVID-19 and COVID-19 patients, working in partnership with other health authorities, the Ministry of Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control.

As part of the provincial response to COVID-19, patients may be transferred to locations elsewhere within the health system for care. Northern Health and the Province have structures and planning in place for the health care system to deliver care to the most critically ill patients, and to maximize capacity.

We can confirm patients have been transferred from Northern Health to other health regions of BC authorities for care during the pandemic. Provincial transfer protocols are in place to support patients, and those protocols include strict COVID-19 health and safety measures. The provincial and regional plans are in place to deliver care as we see increases in numbers of people in hospital for COVID-19, and to inform how we move people around the region and province - if that’s required.

We can’t predict precisely what referral or transfer patterns may look like - especially for individual patients or locations; those decisions would be based on the care needs of a patient, and available hospital (inpatient and staffing) capacity in any given area at the time.

Across Northern Health, we have 41 critical care ‘base’ beds, and an additional 23 ‘surge’ critical care beds (surge capacity can be scaled up or down, depending on need), and approximately 100 ventilators available to support critical care, including transport ventilators (this number is approximate as additional ventilators continue to arrive and be 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. Finally, each of our hospitals has a pandemic plan, which includes identifying where patients would be cared for based on their care needs.