B.C.’s hospitals still have thousands of empty beds in case of COVID surge

Interior Health at 94 per cent capacity; Fraser Health at 64 per cent

As flu season approaches, and as worries continue about the potential for more COVID-19 cases, most of British Columbia’s hospitals continue to have in-patient beds at the ready.

The province’s hospitals were operating at 76 per cent capacity as of Sept. 28, according to numbers provided to The News by the Ministry of Health. That means there are more than 2,600 free acute-care beds available and unoccupied.

And while that is almost half as many available free beds than in late March, it still gives B.C. dramatically more wiggle room than before COVID-19 hit. It’s also more than three times the number of people who have been hospitalized in B.C. with COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. As of Oct. 1, 69 people in B.C. were in hospital with COVID-19. A total of 779 people had spent any time in hospital for COVID since January.

Before this year’s pandemic, B.C.’s hospital system had operated at 103 per cent capacity, meaning that at any one time, dozens of patients around the province were situated in makeshift “surge” beds and locations.

But in March, as COVID-19 began to sweep across the globe, the province focused on moving thousands of people out of hospital to ensure there was space for a potential surge in new cases. That was driven, in part, by the experience of places like Italy and New York City, where health systems were overwhelmed, leading to high death rates when only a portion of those with the virus could get medical help.

In B.C., those moved out of hospital included thousands of patients who occupied hospital beds while waiting for care alternatives to be set up in the community. Thousands of non-urgent surgeries were also cancelled, freeing up beds that would otherwise be occupied by recovering patients.

IN DEPTH: How B.C. emptied its hospitals to prepare for COVID-19

Critically, the province has also opened thousands of new beds. That has enabled it to have space prepared in hospitals, even as non-urgent surgeries have been re-started and accelerated to resolve the backlog created by this spring’s stoppage.

Nineteen larger hospitals have been chosen as primary sites where COVID-19 patients are treated.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Sept. 30 occupancy by health authority
Infogram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

English Creek, southeast of Three Valley Gap, has become a popular bouldering destination. (William Eaton photo)
Column: English Creek now a bouldering destination

Terrain offers 33 climbing routes in six bouldering areas

Pringles.
Morning Start: The inventor of the Pringles can is now buried in one

Your morning start for Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020

RCMP responded to a single-vehicle collision on Highway 1 east of Salmon Arm early Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (File photo)
Salmon Arm man killed in collision on Highway 1

RCMP say slippery road conditions contributing factor behind collision

Salmon Arm RCMP responded to a seven-vehicle chain reaction collision early Monday morning, Oct. 26. (File photo)
One person injured in seven-vehicle chain-reaction collision in Salmon Arm

Snow packed to ice, speed contributing factors behind collisions

Armstrong’s Christyna Whieldon is $1M richer after scoring a winning Lotto 6/49 ticket from the general store. (BCLC contributed)
Armstrong mom $1M richer after candy run

Christyna Whieldon bought a winning ticket from Armstrong’s general store

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Some of the characters in the League of Legends video game. (Photo: na.leagueoflegends.com)
E-sports trial at B.C. high schools to start with ‘League of Legends’ team game

For fall launch, Vancouver’s GameSeta company partners with BC School Sports

Kelowna Secondary School. (SD23 photo)
Second case of COVID-19 confirmed at Kelowna Secondary School

Interior Health has confirmed the new case is unrelated to the one announced Sunday

The Stuart Park ice rink in January 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Popular Kelowna outdoor ice rink will open amid COVID-19 pandemic

City council approved COVID-related changes to the Stuart Park ice rink’s operations

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health sees 31 new cases of COVID-19 over record-breaking weekend

Eighty-six cases remain active and one person is hospitalized with the virus

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Parents not giving up, after official search for Manning Park hiker suspended again

‘We are determined, but eventually the money is going to run out.’

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Most Read