Sarnia hospital nears capacity as virus surges

Tara Jeffrey

Bluewater Health has more COVID-19 patients in hospital than at any other time during the pandemic as medical and Intensive Care Unit beds reach capacity.

Chief of staff Mike Haddad revealed Monday that the hospital’s ICU is at 93% occupancy, with COVID patients occupying 10 of the 14 beds.

Meanwhile, the medical unit is running at 106% occupancy, with a total of 41 COVID-positive patients in hospital.

Without vaccines, the number of people hospitalized would likely be five times as much, and even higher for ICU patients, Dr. Haddad said.

He was attempting to combat misinformation circulating online, including references to Ontario’s ‘hospitalizations by vaccination status’ updates, which provide raw data on the number of unvaccinated, partially vaccinated and fully vaccinated patients in hospital and ICU each day.

The Public Health Ontario data is easily misinterpreted, he said.

“Eighty-eight percent of adults are vaccinated. The unvaccinated 12% are contributing much more relatively (to hospitalizations). You have to adjust to population size for each group,” he wrote.

Currently, 90% of patients in ICU at the Sarnia hospital are not vaccinated.

Warwick Township Mayor Jackie Rombouts responded to Haddad’s Twitter posts, writing, “Your board created this problem.

“It’s time you do the responsible thing and bring back the healthy workers you let go in the fall,” she wrote. “It’s time to fix it. People’s lives are at stake.”

“It’s time,” Haddad responded, “to do the right thing and ensure that everyone is vaccinated against this virus that keeps disrupting our lives and displacing care to all.

“It’s either vaccines or keep going down the path of unsustainable and unpopular restrictions.”

Haddad told The Globe and Mail last week that he’s seeing patients ask to be immunized after it’s too late to help. He pointed to nine COVID-19 related hospital deaths in the past two weeks.

“Prevention in the community is the best way to help take the pressure off the health system, as we don’t have infinite resources at hospitals,” Haddad wrote.

“We’ll always have COVID-19 admissions, even among vaccinated who are medically frail and can decompensate with any infection. But the goal is to reduce the number of patients requiring admissions.”

Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table currently lists Lambton fifth highest of 34 health units for COVID-19 cases per capita per day.

As for the percentage of vaccinated residents aged five and over, Lambton ranks 30th out of 34.