Hawkesbury hospital ER closing until Jan. 3

The Hawkesbury and District General Hospital says its emergency department will be closed until early 2023 as it deals with a surge in patients and not enough nurses to treat them. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press - image credit)
The Hawkesbury and District General Hospital says its emergency department will be closed until early 2023 as it deals with a surge in patients and not enough nurses to treat them. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The hospital in Hawkesbury, Ont., says it's shutting down its emergency department for several days as it struggles with a surge of respiratory illnesses and a shortage of nurses.

The ER will close at 6 p.m. on Friday and is slated to reopen Jan. 3 at 8 a.m., according to a media release from the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital.

Respiratory illnesses like influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have strained hospitals across Ontario in recent weeks, particularly children's hospitals like CHEO in Ottawa.

At the Hawkesbury hospital, the impact has only gotten worse in the past few days and the current situation is "not sustainable," CEO Frédéric Beauchemin said in the release.

People who need urgent care during the shutdown are being urged to seek treatment at other nearby hospitals, including the Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria, Ont., and the Lachute Hospital in Lachute, Que.

The Hawkesbury hospital's birthing centre is slated to stay open during the closure.

In its own release, the United Counties of Prescott and Russell said ambulance response times may be longer than normal over the next few days as paramedics are forced to transport patients greater distances.

Patients will also not be able to choose which hospital they're taken to during the shutdown, the municipality said.