Limit visits to Edmundston ER, Vitalité asks, amid high volumes

Edmundston Regional Hospital has a bed occupancy rate of 98 per cent, according to a COVID-19 update issued by the Vitalité Health Network Tuesday. (Radio-Canada - image credit)
Edmundston Regional Hospital has a bed occupancy rate of 98 per cent, according to a COVID-19 update issued by the Vitalité Health Network Tuesday. (Radio-Canada - image credit)

Vitalité Health Network is asking people to limit visits to the Edmundston Regional Hospital's emergency department, due to a high volume of patients in the ER, and a high overall bed occupancy rate.

The advisory, issued Tuesday, remains in effect until Sunday, Vitalité said in a news release.

"Our health-care professionals are giving their best to provide safe, quality care, and patients with the most critical needs are prioritized," said Dr. Natalie Banville, Vitalité's senior vice-president of clinical programs and medical affairs.

Multiple factors are contributing to occupancy rates and wait times, according to Banville.

"Due to lack of access to primary care, nearly six in [10] patients visit our emergency departments for non-emergency care," she said in an emailed statement.

This is a complex and systemic issue, and our teams are working hard to find and implement new solutions. - Natalie Banville, senior vice-president of clinical programs and medical affairs

Staff shortages and the aging population also "create challenges on many levels," Banville said.

Across Vitalité, three out of every 10 beds are occupied by patients waiting for home care or a place in a long-term care facility.

The emergency department remains open for people who need urgent or critical care, said Vitalité.

But other people are urged to see their family doctor or nurse practitioner, consult their community pharmacist or to contact Tele-Care (811) or eVisitNB.

People who do go to the ER for non-urgent reasons "should be patient and expect much longer than usual wait times," the regional health authority advised.

"This is a complex and systemic issue, and our teams are working hard to find and implement new solutions," said Banville.

This includes working to improve the flow of admissions and discharges, to reduce overflow and wait times in the emergency department, and to make it easier to manage admissions to a nursing unit, she said.

In addition, Vitalité is collaborating with its partners, including Ambulance NB, the Department of Health and the Department Social Development, Banville said.

The Edmundston Regional Hospital has a bed occupancy rate of 98 per cent, as of Jan. 7, according to a COVID-19 update issued by Vitalité Tuesday.

There are seven COVID patients at the hospital, including two in intensive care.