Hanover council passes resolution on Walkerton hospital situation

·2 min read

HANOVER – The Town of Hanover has passed a resolution to formally request the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care work with South Bruce Grey Health Centre to find an immediate solution to its staffing shortages.

That resolution is included in the agenda of Thursday’s meeting of Bruce County council.

The resolution calls for the province to continue working on strategies “not only designed to recruit nurses to rural Ontario, but also focus on retaining experienced nurses who are essential to critical and emergency care units.”

Said Hanover Mayor Sue Paterson, “With the recent announcement that the SBGHC Walkerton site will be reducing their emergency department hours, Hanover council supported a resolution to request that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care work to find an immediate solution to nursing staff shortages. This closure will increase pressure to neighbouring health care services, and particularly Hanover and District Hospital.”

The Hanover resolution, moved by Coun. Steve Fitzsimmons and seconded by Coun. Dave Hocking, noted that Ontario has the lowest nurse-per-capita ratio in Canada, with 665 registered nurses for every 100,000 people, and stated that this province would require 22,003 more working RNs just to reach the national average.

It further noted that Ontario nurses are leaving the profession in droves because of burnout.

The resolution stressed that the decision of the SBGHC board to close the emergency department at the Walkerton site overnight starting Dec. 27 has had “sweeping effects on workloads for local first responders including police, firefighters and paramedics, and … will add significant pressures to neighbouring health-care services and facilities, and particularly Hanover and District Hospital.”

Hanover’s resolution made note of Brockton council’s formal request for the County of Bruce to retain a health services expert to examine the nursing staff shortage.

Paterson noted, “We wanted to emphasize to the ministry that rural health care is facing many challenges right now. Recently, the province announced that a four-year nursing degree program will be offered at Georgian College, Owen Sound, and is investing $35 million for nursing programs across Ontario. This is great for the long term but it doesn’t fix the current issues.”

Paterson also chairs the Grey Bruce Board of Health. She is familiar with health-care issues; her background includes having served as fundraising co-ordinator for Hanover and District Hospital Foundation for several years.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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