IWK increases staffing to cope with surge in visits

·1 min read
The IWK Health Centre emergency department has seen about 40 per cent more patients than usual for this time of year. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)
The IWK Health Centre emergency department has seen about 40 per cent more patients than usual for this time of year. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)

The IWK Health Centre in Halifax is increasing staffing to help with the high volume of children seeking care at the emergency department.

The ER has about 40 per cent more patients than usual for this time of year, due to an unseasonal spike in respiratory illnesses.

There were 40 cases of influenza A identified during the second week of June — the highest weekly total in the last five influenza seasons, according to reports released by the province.

The Health Department has approved the hours for an additional doctor and two nurse practitioners.

Dr. Doug Sinclair, the IWK's vice-president of medicine, quality and safety, said the additional doctor comes in for a third shift that runs from 6 p.m. to midnight AT.

"We're hoping that should start to make a difference fairly quickly," Sinclair said, noting the two nurse practitioners aren't slated to start immediately.

A spokesperson for the Health Department told CBC News the funding for the additional doctor falls under existing budgeting.

On Monday, the IWK saw 178 patients come through its doors, just two shy of the daily record, a spokesperson told CBC.

Sinclair said it's common for patients at this time of year to be children who injured themselves while out playing, rather than respiratory illnesses.

Health Minister Michelle Thompson said the department has heard about increased cases of illness in pediatric emergency rooms across the country.

Chepko Danil Vitalevich/Shutterstock
Chepko Danil Vitalevich/Shutterstock

"The timing is, I think, what's most unusual for us," Thompson said. "We generally see these respiratory illnesses in particular earlier on in the season.

"Given the fact that we have been practising public health measures for the last two years, there has been a delay in the season for this year in particular."

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