Virus blamed for ‘col­lat­eral dam­age’

National Post (Latest Edition) - - PANDEMIC - Al­li­son Jones

TORONTO • An On­tario hospi­tal net­work has es­ti­mated that 35 peo­ple may have died dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­demic be­cause their car­diac surg­eries weren’t per­formed, Health Min­is­ter Christine El­liott said Tues­day.

The mod­el­ling re­leased by Toronto’s Univer­sity Health Net­work looked at his­tor­i­cal data to pro­vide an es­ti­mate of how peo­ple sched­uled for car­diac pro­ce­dures may have been af­fected by pan­demic plan­ning.

“Com­pared to the num­ber of po­ten­tial deaths of COVID-19 pa­tients due to re­source de­ple­tion un­der the worst case pan­demic epi­demi­ol­ogy sce­nar­ios, there was only a mod­est con­se­quence in terms of wait- list mor­bid­ity and mor­tal­ity, at least in the short term for paus­ing car­diac pro­ce­dures,” the re­port found.

Fu­ture re­search should de­ter­mine the point at which fore­go­ing pro­ce­dures for car­diac pa­tients in favour of COVID-19 pa­tients re­sults in more car­diac deaths than COVID-19 deaths.

Thou­sands of surg­eries were post­poned or can­celled in or­der to en­sure enough acute and crit­i­cal ca­pac­ity in On­tario hos­pi­tals for a pos­si­ble COVID-19 surge.

“I don’t want to call it col­lat­eral dam­age be­cause they are deaths and that is very con­cern­ing and sad to all of us, but we were re­quired to make de­ci­sions,” El­liott said.

“Be­cause of the space that was cre­ated in our hos­pi­tals and the de­ci­sions that were made to make sure that we had enough acute care and crit­i­cal care beds and ven­ti­la­tors avail­able for peo­ple with COVID-19 … thou­sands of lives were saved.”

The province’s Fi­nan­cial Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice es­ti­mated Tues­day that be­tween March 15 and April 22, up to 52,700 pro­ce­dures were can­celled or avoided.

That freed up 6,849 acute care beds and 585 crit­i­cal care beds, the FAO said.

Up to 12,200 more pro­ce­dures are de­layed every week of the pan­demic.

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