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Nearly three dozen people died in Ontario because coronavirus policies delayed their heart surgeries


'It certainly was not intended'

Christine Elliott, MPP, the Deputy Premier of Ontario and Ontario Minister of Health speaks Nov. 21, 2019, at the Ontario Legislature at Queen's Park in Toronto. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Dozens of Canadians have died because they couldn't get heart surgery under hospital coronavirus policies that delayed many procedures viewed as nonurgent, according to the Toronto Sun.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott announced the deaths last week, which were found in a study by researchers associated with the United Health Network.

Elliott said 35 people died in Ontario because of delayed heart surgeries, an unintended — although not totally unforeseen — consequence of hospital policies meant to put more resources toward treating COVID-19

Any death that happened because of COVID-19 — whether directly or indirectly — is a tragedy," Elliott said, the Sun reported. "We feel for those families who've lost family members — whether it has been from cancer death, cardiac death or a COVID-19 death. But these were decisions that we had to make. The decisions were made by medical personnel."

Ontario, like many U.S. states, has postponed nonemergency surgeries to free up personal protective equipment and hospital beds for potential surges in COVID-19 patients. But, like in many U.S. states, anticipated surges did not arrive, leaving thousands of hospital beds empty and thousands of important non-coronavirus procedures delayed indefinitely.

Some types of surgery that can be delayed to make room for anticipated coronavirus patients include cancer-related procedures, heart surgeries, and hip replacements, among others.

From the Toronto Sun (emphasis added):

Ontario continues to delay over 12,000 elective surgeries a week even as thousands of hospital acute and critical care beds lie empty, a provincial fiscal watchdog has found.

The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) released a new report Tuesday that looks at hospital capacity and health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To free up beds, Ontario's hospitals have cancelled 52,700 surgeries since March 15, and are delaying 12,200 additional surgeries each week that operation rooms remain idle.

The FAO report said that as of April 23, there were only 910 COVID-19 patients in the hospital in Ontario, leaving 9,000 hospital beds empty. The report states that the steps taken to open up hospital capacity, including the delay of surgeries, freed up 585 ICU beds.

Approximately 1,300 people have died of COVID-19 in Ontario.

(H/T Washington Examiner)

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