Toronto hospitals turn away ambulances

About half of Toronto emergency rooms turned away ambulances Tuesday because of overcrowding.

Only two to five hospitals are accepting all emergency patients at any time.

The rest redirected ambulances to other hospitals.

The clinical leader at St. Michael's Hospital, Karen Gaunt, said beds filled up after the emergency room received six to eight ambulances within a half hour, in addition to walk-in patients.

Toronto ambulance paramedic Paul Moore says patients with colds and flu tie up staff in emergency departments. 

Gaunt said very ill patients must be admitted to acute care at St. Michael's, but some were stranded in the emergency ward because there weren't enough beds.

Earlier this month, the provincial government announced an additional $23 million in funding to ease emergency-room overcrowding.

The plan also includes reopening 300 hospital beds in Greater Toronto during peak emergency use periods for intensive care patients.

Four Toronto hospitals would always be available for emergency cases under the plan.

But hospital officials say it may take a long time for that money to arrive.