COVID-19 and Critical Care

Throughout the pandemic, CCSO has worked closely with health system partners including health care providers and leaders, the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health, to leverage many of the programs and tools implemented through the Critical Care Strategy to support critical care to plan and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CCSO Programs to Support COVID-19 Planning

The increasing demand for critical care beds and resources to care for the volume of COVID-19 patients and the related recovery period has been significant. The response requires local, regional and province-wide inputs, to leverage capacity across all sites, ensuring core services can be maintained, and that patients continue to have access to care. Key to the implementation of programs under the Critical Care Strategy, and all subsequent programs supported by CCSO, is a focus on monitoring capacity and capability, understanding where critical care resources exist, and knowing how to leverage them to improve access and care for patients across the system.

Highlighted below are the foundational components of Ontario’s critical care strategy that have supported access and care for patients during the pandemic.


Surge Management

Increases or surges in the demand for critical care services can pose significant risks to capacity and the ability to deliver necessary health care services. CCSO works in partnership with health care providers, leaders, the Ministry of Health (MOH), and Ontario Health (OH) to ensure the principles and elements of surge capacity management are reinforced. For more information about Surge Management please refer to the surge resources available on the CCSO website.


CCSO supports the provincial ventilator stockpile that provides hospitals across the province with ventilators and high flow nasal cannula devices (HFNC) during times of capacity pressures. These ventilators could potentially be used to care for critical care patients in non-traditional expanded physical spaces.

Data Analytics and Reporting

Information on the COVID-19 status of patients admitted to Ontario critical care units has been made available through the Critical Care Information system (CCIS).  This capture of data has facilitated monitoring trends of patients with COVID-19 over time. CCSO also monitors ICU capacity pressures and resource utilization crucial to understanding critical care activity in regions and specific hospital sites.

COVID-19 Related Human Resource Practices

Three major areas of focus have been identified as leading practices or innovations to be implemented for organizations during the pandemic to support staff. 

busy hospital

Team Supports for Wellness including PPE

To provide staff with resources to improve mental well-being

Personal Protective Equipment Dashboards

Confirmation of PPE Supplies

Credit: Waterloo Wellington LHIN

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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Coaches

Implementation of a PPE Coach Role  

Credit: The Hospital for Sick Children

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Code Lavender: Assistance for Staff Dealing with a Stressful Situation

Assistance for staff dealing with a stressful situation 

Credit: Unity Health Toronto

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Resilience Check Lists

Checklists to practice gratitude before and at the end of a shift

Credit: Hamilton Health Sciences

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Health Human Resources – Alternate Models of Care

To provide senior leaders with resources to provide safe, efficient and transparent team based strategies during the pandemic

Simulation Based Education for Alternate Models of Care

Ontario hospital teams are invited to participate in a virtual simulation program designed to help you communicate effectively within a team-based model.

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Pods Model

Pod model in critical care units. 

As well as a guide to Support RN Roles and Responsibilities for acute care nurses with no prior ICU training and experience from medical surgical inpatient units to provide support when converted to the pod model. 

Credit: Unity Health Toronto 

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Pandemic Toolkit

Staffing strategies and alternate models of care

Credit: Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

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Health Human Resources: Expanded Team Based Models of Care

These resources are to provide guidance for organizations about activating Team Based Models of Care in response to the growing COVID 19 pressures

HHR Expanded Team Based Models. Presentation

Guidance Document for Healthcare Organizations: Team Based Models of Care

Education and Upskilling

To provide staff with the opportunity for additional education for redeployment and/or upskilling

Centralized Critical Care Modules to Support Upskilling and Education

 Module to support upskilling and education

Credit: Unity Health Toronto

Coming soon

In-House Upskilling Training

Course to review skills and have a preparedness plan for COVID 

Credit: Health Sciences North

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Critical Care Educator

A dedicated critical care educator to provide an in-house critical care course. 

Credit: Southlake Regional Hospital

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Critical Care Learning Tools

The Michener Institute module to support upskilling and education.

Credit: The Michener Institute of Education at UHN

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Regional Consultation Guidelines

Small and rural hospitals COVID management response

Credit: Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

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