Beginning Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, emergency operation centres (EOCs) will be reactivated in health authorities to ensure patients continue to have access to the hospital care services they need as respiratory illness season continues in B.C.
Activating EOCs is another proactive step in the Province’s plan to provide enhanced supports and a co-ordinated response during periods of expected additional pressure for hospitals. They ensure people have continued quality access to hospital care. People who require ongoing hospital care will continue to receive it.
Demand for hospital care is high. British Columbia traditionally experiences an increase in hospitalizations in January as people access care after the holiday period. This coincides with increases in respiratory illnesses and surgeries ramping back up after the holiday slowdown.
EOCs will support the response to this demand. The Province has also used these centres throughout its response to the pandemic, as well as during wildfire and extreme weather events, including the recent extreme cold weather and snowstorms.
The EOCs will be in place for a minimum of six weeks. They will help ensure dedicated leadership teams are reviewing hospital bed availability and identifying solutions to ease emergency department congestion. These actions increase patient flow so that the most vulnerable patients, including those who need critical care, get the care they need.
As well, the EOCs enable the leadership teams to support patients who are ready to be discharged from hospital, helping them to transition in a safe way. Resources will be available seven days a week to support hospital units at the 20 B.C. hospitals that care for the most patients: Abbotsford Regional, Royal Columbian, Surrey Memorial, East Kootenay Regional, Kelowna General, Kootenay Boundary Regional, Penticton Regional, Royal Inland, Vernon Jubilee, Fort St. John & Peace Villa, Mills Memorial, University Hospital of Northern BC, BC Children’s, Lions Gate, Richmond, St. Paul’s, Vancouver General, Nanaimo Regional General, Royal Jubilee, and Victoria General.
The EOCs build on actions underway since fall 2022, as detailed on the Sept. 28 and the Nov. 16 briefings on the Province’s preparations and readiness for respiratory illness season. These actions include bed management, and integration of priority actions into health authority surge response plans by the Emergency Department and Hospital Capacity Task Group.
Over the next two weeks, through the EOC structures, health authorities will reduce overall hospital occupancy and ensure emergency departments have available patient care beds for acutely ill patients.
The Ministry of Health will monitor progress, continue to work with health authorities, and adapt plans and efforts as required to ensure actions support patients and providers. The EOCs and the preparations they advance are key to B.C.’s pandemic response, respiratory illness season and other events that require highly co-ordinated efforts to manage these types of surges now and in the months ahead.
British Columbians can play an equally crucial role in supporting the health-care system by getting vaccinated against influenza and COVID-19, staying home when they are sick and by following public-health guidance.
People with life-threatening symptoms should go to their hospital emergency department. Those with non-emergency health concerns can visit their care provider or a walk-in clinic. People who need urgent, same-day care can contact an urgent and primary care centre. If unsure, call 811 for advice or visit: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca
To learn more about the Sept. 28 and Nov. 16 briefings, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022HLTH0223-001727 and https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022HLTH0189-001458
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