ERs in Canada are overwhelmed and face closures

Hospitals overwhelmed by the onslaught of the pandemic are still facing a number of challenges, leading to unprecedented wait times in emergency rooms across the country.

Besides the limited number of hospital beds and the backlog of surgeries, one of the main causes of dysfunction is the shortage of doctors and nurses.

Many of the problems facing hospitals are not new, but experts say the pandemic has exacerbated the situation, resulting in a crisis so severe that patients are now starting to see emergency department closures at nearby hospitals. ‘them.

A LONG AND “LONG WEEKEND” FOR EMERGENCY ROOMS

On Saturday, Perth and Smith Falls District Hospital (PSFDH) announced the closure of its emergency department until Thursday, citing an outbreak of COVID-19. However, his doctors say the real reason is a continued shortage of staff.

“Yes, COVID caused the emergency department to shut down, but the reality is we didn’t have built-in resilience from our nursing staff,” Dr. Alan Drummond told CTV National News on Saturday.

Drummond said PSFDH’s emergency room has shrunk from 50 nurses to five, leaving the unit unusually thin.

“Someone has to be held responsible for the fact that we lost 50% of our nursing staff in a few months, which set us up for failure,” he said.

Drummond said the PSFDH’s catchment area is about 25,000 people in a large geographic area between Smiths Falls and Peterborough, which means many patients travel long distances to get to the emergency department.

Patients requiring urgent care will now have to drive 20 kilometers from Perth to Smiths Falls.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the people in this community,” local resident John Hastings told CTV News on Saturday.

The town of Clinton, Ont., was without an emergency room for the entire Canada Day long weekend, as the emergency room at Clinton Public Hospital announced a July 1-5 closure.

It marked the longest 24-hour emergency room closure at Clinton Public Hospital.

Shortages of doctors and nurses are to blame, according to Deborah Wiseman, executive director of nursing for the Huron-Perth Health Alliance, which anticipates further service disruptions this summer.

“Not just this weekend, but what you will see is more to come. I will say for the next six months to several years, with our human health care shortages, both in nursing and in doctors. We’re really struggling to maintain services,” Wiseman told CTV National News.

Wiseman said they are investigating everything to try to address the shortage of healthcare workers and keep their emergency rooms open, including the use of paramedics in emergency rooms.

Other provinces are experiencing similar problems. Six emergency departments in Quebec will be partially closed this summer due to a shortage of staff, the provincial government announced Thursday.

Nova Scotia Health says people should expect long wait times in all four health zones due to high demand over the long weekend.

“Unfortunately, we are currently experiencing what we call a ‘bed block,’ where we have a large number of patients being admitted and nowhere to send them,” Dr. Cape Breton to Sydney, Nova Scotia. National news on Saturdays.

Bonnie Nunn, a resident of Trehern, Manitoba, told CTV National News on Saturday that her daughter had recently needed emergency care and had to be taken to Portage la Prairie, about 45 minutes away, because the service Trehern emergency was closed due to lack of personnel.

“I’m really mad, mad at everything. I don’t think it’s been thought through enough,” she said.

“I’m not mad at the nurses. They also need time off.”

WHAT CAUSES STAFF SHORAGES?

Dr. Katharine Smart, president of the Canadian Medical Association, told CTV News Atlantic in May that the burnout rate for doctors and nurses is double what it was before the pandemic.

“Our healthcare system is at a crisis level that we’ve never really seen, and healthcare workers are at a crisis level that we’ve never seen,” Smart said.

A survey released in June by Statistics Canada showed that 95% of healthcare workers believe the pandemic has impacted their mental health and added stress to their work-life balance.

During the pandemic, health workers have had to deal with extended working hours, reduced vacations and changes in the method of delivering care.

During the fourth wave of the pandemic between September and November 2021 – the period in which the survey was conducted – many health workers were looking to leave or resign due to work stress or concerns about their Mental Health.

“How to retain workers? Probably an increase,” Elinor Kelly, a Halifax-based intensive care nurse, told CTV News Atlantic in May.

“Probably a decent. I think that will have to help. Especially for critical care nurses because critical care we have a lot of people that we train and recruit, but after about a year they can go to work privately at triple the amount I make after 27 years.

Dr. Paul Saba, a family physician and president of the Board of Physicians at Lachine Hospital in Montreal, said he wanted the government to make substantial changes.

“The health system needs to be improved. And that can’t just be a short-term campaign promise…for the next few years, but long-term,” he told CTV National News on Saturday.

With files from Deena Zaidi and CTV News Atlantic

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