Ideally, ICUs have at least one vacant bed available for emergencies – for a critically ill patient arriving by ambulance or an inpatient whose condition deteriorates and requires critical care. QHC’s reality is that our ICU occupancy is well over 100 per cent most of the year, resulting in critical care patients waiting too long in the Emergency Department for an ICU bed, or patients being transferred to another ICU in the region, such as Kingston.
Our current 14-bed ICU was constructed in 2006 and, while it was well-designed for our needs at the time, it is now undersized for the service we provide for our region. In recognition of the service pressure, QHC received operational funding for a 15th bed in 2018/19 and we’ve just been notified that funding for two more beds is being added to our base funding this year.
On September 24th, QHC’s Board of Directors approved a Stage 1/Stage 2 planning submission to expand the physical space of the ICU by four beds. The submission is being sent to the Ministry of Health and the South East Local Health Integration Network (SE LHIN) for approval.
“Our 14-bed unit cannot house the 17 patients, plus 2-3 more that will be required in seasonal surge situations,” explains Carol Smith Romeril, QHC Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer. “We need to expand the physical space within the ICU to ensure acute care is available for the sickest patients arriving at our hospitals, and to allow our ICU team to provide the best care possible.”
Until redevelopment can occur, an interim plan is being created to utilize the space we have in order to operate the 17 ICU beds now being funded. More details will be shared with staff soon.
The planned expansion of the ICU involves redeveloping adjacent offices and staff space to create four new patient bays, with work expected to be complete by late 2020 or early 2021. QHC’s Master Plan indicates the need for up to 22 beds for the ICU by 2025. Further expansion would be needed in the next step of redevelopment.