Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) is experiencing unprecedented patient activity impacting wait times and availability of beds for admitted patients. To safely manage the surging volume of patients RVH has opened another 10-bed temporary overflow unit in its new cardiac intervention unit.

Despite opening a 36-bed transitional care unit in December, RVH’s medical bed occupancy has spiked 135 per cent and admitted patients are being cared for in unconventional spaces such as hallways, temporary surge units and in the emergency department.

“These soaring patient volumes have made it extremely difficult to provide timely care,” says Dr. Jeffrey Tyberg, an emergency physician and RVH chief of staff. “When you have patients who are sick enough to be admitted to the hospital, but no available hospital beds, the emergency department becomes gridlocked, people receive care in spaces that aren’t meant for patient care and wait times grow.”

RVH has experienced surge conditions for more than a year with occupancy rates consistently over 110 per cent. A significant factor contributing to the capacity challenge is that the health centre is caring for almost 90 alternate-level-of-care patients who are awaiting placement in a nursing home, long-term care facility or require home-care services.

It’s important that people consider whether they require emergency care or, if their health condition isn’t urgent, consult their family doctor, a walk-in clinic or Telehealth. In the case of an emergency, patients should always call 911 immediately or go to the closest emergency department.

If you are going to the emergency department, people are being asked to limit support to one person to avoid further congestion.