Fredericton hospital at reduced capacity overnight Saturday due to staffing shortages

The Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton will operate at reduced capacity from Saturday at 7:30 p.m. until Sunday at 7:30 a.m.

Horizon Health Network said in a press release on Saturday that the service disruption is due to an « unforeseen shortage of available staff. »

The emergency department will remain open, but patients with non-emergency medical needs are asked to seek alternatives.

“Using other options helps ensure New Brunswickers can access the care they need, as well as ensuring our emergency service teams can continue to provide safe emergency care, quality and in a timely manner,” Horizon said in the press release.

Patients with non-emergency medical needs, including sore throat and flu-like symptoms, are advised to seek alternative care. (Maria Jose Burgos/CBC)

According to Horizon, examples of medical emergencies for which patients should call 911 or go to the emergency department in Fredericton include: unusual shortness of breath, chest discomfort or tightness, abdominal pain, headache or prolonged or persistent dizziness, an injury that may require stitches or involve a broken bone, having a child with prolonged diarrhea or vomiting, and having a baby less than six months old with a fever of 38°C or more.

Examples of non-emergency needs include: sore throat, toothache, earache, possible bladder infection, skin rash, testing for sexually transmitted infections, lower back pain, flu symptoms and prescription refills, Horizon said.

Impact of staff shortage

Horizon and Vitalité Health Network have experienced continued disruptions to emergency services and services due to staffing shortages.

The emergency department at Sackville Memorial Hospital closed on Saturday.

Staffing shortages and closures at Sackville Memorial Hospital have been going on for months, with temporary closures becoming a regular occurrence. In October 2021, Horizon Health announced a indefinite reduction in hours for the Sackville Emergency Department.

Vitalité said the nursing shortage was « exacerbated by the pandemic and staff burnout » and caused the suspension of pediatric services at the Edmundston Regional Hospital and the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst.

Pediatric and obstetrical services at the Campbellton Regional Hospital have been suspended by the health authority for over two years, effective April 2020.

The Campbellton Hospital’s intensive care unit was indefinitely reduced to four beds in August.

The unit was fully shut down for two weeks later that month and through September.


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