Hallway used for patient overflow at Surrey Memorial Hospital, 2016. B.C. has cleared 40 per cent of its acute care beds to make way for COVID-19 patients. (Black Press Media files)

Hallway used for patient overflow at Surrey Memorial Hospital, 2016. B.C. has cleared 40 per cent of its acute care beds to make way for COVID-19 patients. (Black Press Media files)

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

B.C.’s health ministry has been updating its most telling public indicator of its “worst case scenario” for serious COVID-19 cases, by holding more than 4,000 acute-care hospital beds open even as its hospitalized cases are holding steady at fewer than 150.

Hospital bed occupancy in B.C. has run at more than 100 per cent for many years, with overflow systems for surgery and other patients. As of April 6 the bed occupancy was 58.8 per cent, with 4,422 beds available, and 53.3 per cent of critical care and intensive care unit beds were occupied.

Postponing thousands of elective surgeries has helped clear hospital capacity, as has a significant drop in the number of patients coming into emergency rooms. There were 2,995 ER patients on April 5, fewer than half of the cases recorded in B.C. hospitals on March 9, Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

There were 140 people in hospital with COVID-19 related illness as of April 6. “That’s slightly above Sunday when it was 137, and slightly below Saturday when it was 149,” Dix said.

By region, there were 63 hospitalized patients in Fraser Health, 49 in Vancouver Coastal, 13 in Interior Health, 11 in Island Health and four in the Northern Health Authority.

RELATED: Recovery rate tops 60%, active B.C. cases now at 444

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry acknowledged that B.C.’s newly detected cases are slowing down, with 26 positive tests as of April 4 and another 37 on April 5. She credited early moves by B.C. to restrict community contact.

“It’s very hard to know exactly why,” Henry said. “We took a lot of measures quite early. We were one of the first provinces to have cases here, and we spent a lot of time doing wide testing, and putting out those sparks that were related to people coming in from other countries and bringing this disease with them.

“Some parts of it are luck, and some parts of it are being prepared, but we were able to, I believe, not have a lot of community spread before we recognized that we had some community transmission and put on the very restrictive measures just prior to our March break.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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