Hamilton hospital cancelled cardiac procedures as COVID cases occupied ICU beds

Hospital says physicians and other healthcare workers are frustrated

Hamilton General Hospital cancelled all cardiac surgeries for a day last week because ICU beds were taken up by unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.

In a news release, the hospital said physicians and other healthcare workers are frustrated.

“Those choosing to be unvaccinated are endangering others and themselves – they don’t need to be sick and in hospital,” says Dr. Craig Ainsworth, Director of the Cardiac Care Unit at Hamilton General Hospital. “My colleagues and I are fully vaccinated, we support hospital policy and expect that everyone will follow the science. It’s the right thing to do.”

The hospital said that seven of its eight extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machines were being used to help unvaccinated COVID-19 patients breathe, forcing hospital administrators to make the difficult decision to cancel a day’s worth of planned procedures, according to the news release.

These machines are used to treat the sickest COVID-19 patients, but they are also required by those undergoing cardiac surgeries.

According to the province, there were 189 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units across Ontario on Monday.

“Sending home a 50-year-old patient with a weak heart and disease that carries a high risk of sudden death is wrong. But we are starting to have no choice,” Dr. Richard Whitlock, a cardiac surgeon for Hamilton Health Sciences, said in a message posted to Twitter. “Our centre is now focusing on the sickest of COVID, those requiring ECMO. This proportion seems higher this wave as we are very early into it and we have already almost reached the peak number that needed ECMO in the 3rd wave.”