Demand for hospital beds amid the next phase of omicron lockdown in the US and Canada’s health care systems

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As omicron makes its way throughout North America, the reactions in the United States and Canada are as divergent as they come. While most US states are open for business, Canada’s largest provinces remain closed.

For example, the free-market-oriented American healthcare system offers more hospital beds per capita than the government-dominated Canadian healthcare system.

A doctor and former health bureaucrat in Ontario was asked about the USA market-driven health care system, he responded: “I’m not advocating for the American market-driven system,” he stated. “However, I believe that in Canada, hospital and hospital beds capacity has been severely curtailed.”

That has reverberated across the economy. Restaurants, music halls, and gyms are closed in Ontario, while religious services are outlawed in Quebec. In the province of British Columbia, indoor weddings and funeral celebrations have been suspended.

ICU capacity is limited in hospitals. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, there is one staffed ICU hospital bed per 4,100 individuals. In Ontario, there is one ICU medical bed for every 6,000 persons, according to provincial government numbers and the most recent demographic projections.

However, the capacity of a hospital is simply one indicator of a health system’s performance. Most Canadians have greater access to healthcare than Americans and are less likely to go bankrupt due to medical expenses. As a result of more widespread usage of health restrictions and a more collectivist approach to health care, Canada’s Covid-19 mortality rate is one-third that of the US.

However, the pandemic has revealed one trade-off that Canada faces with its universal system: its hospitals are less equipped of managing a rush of patients.

In Ontario, the situation is particularly dire. As a percentage of the country’s population, Canada’s hospitals are underutilized compared to the United States. However, Ontario is the worst-performing province in Canada. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, it has one intensive-care or acute-care hospital bed for every 800 people in April 2019. There were an average of one medical bed for every 570 inhabitants throughout Canada during this time period. ( New York has around one inpatient hospital bed for every 420 inhabitants.)

Because of this, the health care system in the province is in jeopardy whenever a new outbreak of Covid-19 arises.

Ontario Premier stated on Monday that the arithmetic “isn’t on our side” as he announced more closures of schools and businesses this week in order to relieve strain on the province’s hospitals. Nearly 2,300 individuals in the province have been admitted to hospitals because of Covid-19.

We need a national dialogue about insufficient health care capacity and staffing, tweeted Brampton Mayor on Wednesday after Brampton Civic Hospital in Toronto suburbs declared an emergency due to a scarcity of hospital beds and staff.

According to the physician, the main stumbling block in the healthcare system is the lack of staff in the emergency rooms and critical care units (ICUs). There is an extraordinary shortage of workers during Covid waves when many employees are compelled to isolate themselves at home due to illness or exposure.

As was the case last year, the hospitals in Toronto were forced to send covid patients to smaller hospitals around the province. Even during a flu season in Toronto, hospitals are overworked, says the physician, who works at the Kingston Health Sciences Center, saw brought in more than 100 Covid patients early in the pandemic.

Hospital bed rental companies can be contacted by individuals in this struggling situation to rent a medical bed and isolate themselves rather than trying to get a hospital for a variety of medical ailments, including Covid-19

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Danielle Bains

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