St. Mary's Hospital over capacity, adds beds, cancels 2 surgeries

St. Mary's General Hospital cancelled two elective surgeries Wednesday morning because there weren't enough beds for 14 admitted patients being held in the emergency department.

Vice president of patient services says influenza contributing to increased volume

St. Mary's General Hospital cancelled 2 elective surgeries Wednesday morning because there weren't enough beds for 14 admitted patients held in the emergency department. (Contributed by: St. Mary's General Hospital)

St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener cancelled two elective surgeries on Wednesday morning in order to accommodate an influx of 14 patients they're holding in the emergency department. 

"The surgeries are non-cardiac, non-cancer procedures," said Angela Stanley, vice president of patient services and chief nursing executive at the hospital. 

"Cancelling surgeries, though, is our very last option. We try to explore every other option before we do that," she said.  

"We're running at about 110% capacity." 

Doctors were also asked to assess their patients for discharge "as soon as possible." 

"Proactive planning is encouraged so that we can best utilize resources over the remainder of the week," the hospital said.  

Flu a contributing factor 

Stanley confirmed the prevalence of influenza has contributed to increased numbers of patients they've been seeing in the emergency department. 

"It is certainly one factor," she said. "There are [also] a variety of illnesses that are impacting the community." 

Typically, St. Mary's faces a "surge" of patients at this time of the year based upon respiratory illness. But this year, the hospital is experiencing an ongoing volume increase over the entire year, which is considered "unusual." 

"This is the first year for that," Stanley said. 

16 extra beds 

As a result, the hospital has added 16 extra "surge," or temporary beds, to accommodate the added volume of people needing at least one overnight stay. 

"Some of the patients that we are holding in emergency are waiting for in-patient beds," said Stanley.

The additional beds will be there for the remainder of the month.

"We really are doing a day-by-day review of what our census is... then we look at how we reduce those beds if possible, based on patient volumes." 

The cancelled surgeries are currently being rescheduled. 

"We're working with the patients and the surgeons to do that in a very quick fashion," said Stanley. 

Ambulance calls also up

Steven Van Valkenburg, chief of paramedic services for the Region of Waterloo, also said his team received an increased volume of emergency calls over the last three years. 

"Overall, we're experiencing about a 7.8 per cent increase year-over-year," said Van Valkenburg.