Ottawa — From Monday’s Globe and Mail Last updated on Sunday, Jul. 05, 2009 10:34PM EDT
Critical ventilators to help Canada cope with the swine flu outbreak are being ordered by the federal government amid dire warnings about the severity of this fall’s flu season.
As the pandemic spreads globally, Canadian public health findings show – for unknown reasons – that victims here have been younger and sicker, and have required more ventilators than most other countries, including the United States.
For years, medical experts have been worried about the small number of intensive care nurses who would be available to treat patients during an influenza pandemic. But the first wave of the H1N1 virus, which killed 29 people in Canada and sent 663 to hospital as of Friday, has exposed another shortfall in national pandemic planning: the number of ventilator machines.
“It appears that there is a sub-population of relatively young people who very rapidly develop severe illness with this virus. And they are not a large number, but they require very intensive ventilatory support with new advanced ventilators,” said Allison McGeer, an expert in infectious disease at Mount Sinai.
“We have very few oscillatory ventilators. We generally don’t need them very often and usually it’s for a very short period of time. So these young people are requiring a disproportionate amount of time on ventilators that we have very small numbers of.” It is a problem that Dr. McGeer said has been quite distinctive to this pandemic and this particular H1N1 virus.
In Ontario, there are 8,000 ventilators, about 1,100 of which are attached to critical-care beds
“I think it is very appropriate to be concerned about the amount of resources of all sorts, whether you talk about nursing, or certain groups of medications, or ventilators. You want to make sure that sufficient resources are available should this recur in a bigger way.”
The recurrence he was alluding to has been predicted for the fall when the traditional flu season in Canada returns.
Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada’s chief medical health officer, said in a teleconference from Mexico last week that H1N1 is not going away. “The one thing, to the extent that you can be certain about anything, is that we will definitely see this [disease] this winter and preparing for that,” Dr. Butler-Jones told reporters.
It could be much worse during the fall so we need to be prepared,” said Dr. Robert Ouellet, the president of the Canadian Medical Association. “So I think that any move to improve the equipment, to improve the human resources, is a good move.”
In the First three Weeks of the Present Winter Season in NSW Australia, there has been up to now 1487 presented with flu-like symptoms.
There where 91 cases for these first three weeks last year.
People, wake up a lot of incoming patients are heading towards our Health Care Infrastructure, we lack; staff, beds, medicines and ventilators.
Time for privates to get their shoulders at the wheel and order for what we will need in big cities and in Regions.