ER in Canada is overloaded, closed

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

Coupled with limited hospital beds and a backlog of surgeries, a major cause of dysfunction is a lack of doctors and nurses.

Many of the problems facing hospitals are not new, but experts say the pandemic has exacerbated the situation, leading to a crisis so severe that patients have begun to close their emergency departments. in hospitals near them.


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

“Yes, COVID caused the closure of the emergency department, but the reality is that we don’t have the built-in resilience of the nursing staff,” Dr Alan Drummond told CTV National News on Saturday.

Drummond says the PSFDH emergency room has been reduced from 50 nurses to five, making the unit particularly thin.

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

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

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

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

The town of Clinton in Ontario did not have an emergency room during the long Canada Day weekend, as the emergency room of the Clinton Public Hospital was announced to be closed from July 1 to 5.

This is the longest closure in 24 hours for the emergency room of the Clinton Public Hospital.

According to Deborah Wiseman, nursing executive director of the Huron-Perth Health Alliance, who predicts more service disruptions this summer.

“Not only this weekend, but what you will see is so much more. I will speak in the next six months to several years, given our lack of human health care, both in the field of nursing and doctors. We are really having a hard time maintaining the services,” Wiseman told CTV National News.

Wiseman said it is investigating everything to try to address health care worker shortages and keep its emergency rooms open, including the use of paramedics in emergency rooms. .

Other provinces are facing similar problems. Six emergency rooms in Quebec will be partially closed this summer due to staffing shortages, the provincial government announced Thursday.

Nova Scotia Health said people should expect long waits in all four health zones because of high demand during long weekends.

“Unfortunately, we’re currently going through what we call ‘the block’, where we have a large number of hospitalized patients and nowhere to send them,” said Dr. doctor at Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney, NS told CTV National News on Saturday.

Bonnie Nunn, a resident from Trehern, Manitoba, told CTV National News on Saturday that her daughter recently needed urgent treatment and had to be taken to Portage la Prairie, about 45 minutes away, because of the emergency department. Trehern rescue has closed due to a lack of Staff.

“I’m really angry, angry about everything. I don’t think enough about this,” she said.

“I’m not mad at the nurses. They also need time to rest. “


Katharine Smart, president of the Canadian Medical Association, told CTV News Atlantic in May that burnout rates among doctors and nurses are twice as high as they were before the pandemic.

“Our healthcare system is at a level of crisis we’ve never seen before, and healthcare workers are in a state of crisis we’ve never seen before,” Smart said.

A survey in June released by Statistics Canada found that 95% of healthcare workers feel that the pandemic has affected their mental health and added strain to the balance between work and life. their work and life.

During the pandemic, healthcare workers have faced extended working hours, reduced leave and changes in the way care is delivered.

During the fourth pandemic from September to November 2021 – the period in which the survey was carried out – many healthcare workers are looking to leave or leave work due to work stress or concerns about their mental health. surname.

“How do we retain workers? Probably going to get a raise,” Halifax-based ICU nurse Elinor Kelly told CTV News Atlantic in May.

“Probably a decent one. 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 hire, but after a year or so they can work privately with as many three times what I earn after 27 years. “

Dr Paul Saba, a GP and president of the Council of Physicians at the Hôpital de Lachine in Montreal, said he wanted the government to make significant changes.

“The health care system must be improved. And it can’t just be a short-term election promise…in the next few years, but the long-term,” he told CTV National News on Saturday.

With files from Deena Zaidi and CTV News Atlantic

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