Victoria Day long-weekend marks start of ‘trauma season’

News / Patient Care
By John Pereira

KHSC expert urges caution as the number of trauma cases expected to increase over the summer

In Eastern Ontario, the Victoria Day long weekend serves as the unofficial start to the summer season. However, as many start to hit the highways to head to cottages; or take their ATVs, motorcycles, bikes and boats out for a spin, it also is the beginning of what KHSC’s medical experts call ‘trauma season.’

“Every year, we see the number of trauma cases across Ontario increase between the May long-weekend through the Labour Day weekend,” says Dr. Chris Evans, head of Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s (KHSC) trauma service. “As the weather warms up and the days become longer, more people will be out on the roads, lakes and trails, which increases the chances of a serious injury. So we’re encouraging everyone to use caution, slow down, and wear a helmet.”

As the regional trauma centre for Southeastern Ontario, many patients are brought directly to KHSC for specialized care, bypassing hospitals in other communities. On average, KHSC’s trauma service receives 350 patients annually. This past year, those numbers have been a little lower due to the provincial lockdown measures related to COVID-19.

“Fewer people have been on the roads this spring so we have seen a drop in cases; however, May traditionally is the month where we begin to see a real increase in trauma volumes. We anticipate this will again be the case through the summer as provincial regulations begin to ease in Ontario,” says Dr. Evans.

Complicating factors this year is the large volume of patients still under the care of KHSC’s Critical Care program. Currently, more than 80 patients are in KHSC’s intensive care unit (ICU), a number of them being treated for or recovering from severe cases of COVID-19. Typically, KHSC’s ICU capacity would be 65 patients.

“With high volumes of patients in the ICU in Kingston and across Ontario, it really is important that everyone exercises caution and good judgment while enjoying the sunshine and warm weather,” says Dr. Evans. “But if you do need us, our team will be here, ready to help.”