Niagara Health’s five hospitals are facing severe staffing shortages as the seventh wave of COVID-19 increases their patient load, the health department announced Thursday.
Staff and doctors are taking extra shifts, postponing vacations and scheduled time off to maintain service to their patients, according to a statement.
Hospital staff are unable to rest and recuperate and “have maintained a grueling pace since the pandemic began,” Niagara Health said.
“There is no quick fix, no single answer to address the cause, effect or solution to the challenges that have emerged or been exacerbated by the pandemic,” he said. declared.
He also said a high number of vacancies, combined with rising COVID-19 outbreaks and staff falling ill, with both COVID and non-COVID illnesses, added to the pressure. Staffing shortages are being felt across Ontario’s health care system, from hospitals to home care to long-term care, he added.
The Niagara Health website allows patients to view wait times for ERs and urgent care. On Friday afternoon, wait times reached up to four hours.
The number of patients exceeds the number of beds in Burlington
Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ont., released a “message to the community” from President and CEO Eric Vandewall on Friday.
Vandewall said Joseph Brant Hospital is experiencing many of the same issues as Niagara Health.
According to Vandewall, Joseph Brant Hospital exceeded its acute occupancy in July, meaning it had more patients than beds available at the hospital.
He said there are patients at Joseph Brant Hospital who are ready to be discharged but must wait for home care, nursing homes or long-term care options to become available to them. He said Joseph Brant Hospital has more than 2,500 people waiting for surgery.
As of Wednesday, 40 healthcare workers at Joseph Brant Hospital were off work with COVID-19, he said.
“Our frontline team of doctors, staff and volunteers have endured what feel like endless waves of this pandemic,” he said in the statement.
Hamilton hospitals are also feeling the pressure
Late last month, St. Joe’s Healthcare in Hamilton described its ongoing struggles with staffing shortages and high patient volumes on Twitter.
In the thread, published on July 21, he said that the increased demand for hospital services, patients requiring care for more serious illnesses, delayed surgeries, lack of patient beds and the increase in the number of patients requiring emergency services are stress factors.
Our hospitals are under immense pressure. Severe staff shortages, high demand for hospital services and the arrival of the 7th wave of COVID are weighing on our teams. Please stay safe this #long weekend and avoid unnecessary travel. pic.twitter.com/bOesxH2dPJ
Hamilton Health Sciences posted a Tweet ahead of the August holiday long weekend noting that Ontario hospitals are “under immense pressure” due to the seventh wave of COVID-19.
Niagara Health offers solutions
Niagara Health said hospital staffing shortages are expected over the next decade as a result of the strain placed on the healthcare system by COVID-19. However, he is trying different solutions to ease the pressure on his staff. These solutions include:
- Aggressive recruitment of healthcare workers, although there is a national shortage of qualified professionals.
- Replace emergency department nurses with other staff so that trained nurses can care for patients.
- Work with family physicians and other primary care workers to increase preventive care and serve residents outside of the hospital.
- Work with academic partners to increase educational opportunities and attract more healthcare workers for the future.
Part of Niagara Health’s plan to attract more medical staff is the new South Niagara Hospital site. As a modern medical facility with the latest equipment and technology, Niagara Health says the site is a “recruitment engine” for the region.
Niagara Health also said it continues to “encourage everyone to get vaccinated with the boosters available to stay safe and healthy.”
Meanwhile, in Burlington, Vandewall asked the community to “take the time to thank any doctor, nurse or healthcare worker you may know, let them know how much they are appreciated and valued. “.