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Critical hospital staffing shortages may cause temporary closures of emergency departments

Staffing shortages may force Quinte Health to have temporary, short-term closures of emergency departments – particularly at North Hastings Hospital in Bancroft.

In an update to the community Thursday morning, Stacey Daub, President and CEO and Quinte Health Chief of Staff Dr. Colin MacPherson spoke to challenges leading into the summer, considering critical physician staffing shortages in the emergency departments (EDs).

“While our physician teams heroically managed to keep all four EDs operating all summer last year, we want our communities to know that, particularly at North Hastings Hospital, we are at significant risk of having temporary, short-term closures over the summer.

“While we continue to take an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to avoid this, we will notify our partners and the public as soon as possible in the event of a closure.

They noted increased demands and staffing limitations continue to create a challenging environment for all members at Quinte Health which is also operating 100 more beds compared to four years ago.

“Everyone is working as hard as they can to keep up, including attempting to fill significant voids in our physician coverage in our EDs this summer. The shortage will mean longer wait times, as we must decrease the number of patients we bring into the ED when we have fewer staff available to provide care.”

Daub noted the this is a system-wide issue, and Quinte Health is not alone in facing potential closures and longer wait times in its hospitals.

“This is not a sign of failure on the part of our remarkable front-line teams. It is a sign of the system strain despite the herculean efforts of our teams. It underscores the need to pursue innovative solutions, partnerships and come together across the system.”

“Our communities are aging at a faster rate than the rest of Ontario and have much higher rates of chronic illness like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure (CHF) in addition to other factors such as housing availability. Our emergency departments are used at a rate of 1.5 times more than the per capita average in Ontario. These same factors influence the number of patients that are admitted to hospital and how long they stay. ”

Quinte Health hospitals continue to play a substitution role in the absence of enough primary care, home care and long-term care services in the community. Remarkable, collaborative work is underway at our hospitals and within our communities to build additional capacity including through the Hastings Prince Edward Ontario Health Team.

“Over the last year, we have seen many stories told in the media, social media, and in our own newsletter about care, passion, and the everyday miracles that happen across our family of four Quinte Health hospitals.  Stories that exemplify the creativity, adaptability, and resilience we have shown, even in the toughest of times.

“While we proudly shine a spotlight on the remarkable efforts of our teams, we also need our communities to understand the strain they are under given the current staffing shortages at a time of increased demand.

“Improving our system, including access to primary care in the community, will take time. In the meantime, our hospitals play and will continue to play an important role in the absence of enough services in our community. This is a formidable challenge, and we need everyone’s support along the way.

Please recognize that the individual members of our hospital teams are carrying a significant workload and are dedicated to providing care to the communities we are proud to serve. Your support, patience, and kindness mean the world to our team.”

Health PULSE says region’s solutions need one strong voice

Filed Under: Local News

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