More doctors, nurses leaving may mean longer summer wait times: medical society

·2 min read
The New Brunswick Medical Society says staffing issues and providing care during the pandemic are making it harder to keep the province’s already burdened health-care system running. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
The New Brunswick Medical Society says staffing issues and providing care during the pandemic are making it harder to keep the province’s already burdened health-care system running. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

In what has become a familiar refrain, the New Brunswick Medical Society says staffing issues are making it even harder to keep the province's health-care system running smoothly.

This comes after more than two years of providing care during a pandemic which has stretched an already burdened health-care system to the limit.

Dr. Mark MacMillan, the society's president, said staff shortages have made things challenging for doctors and nurses, who are desperate for a break. Some of them are leaving the field altogether.

"With the stress and anxiety around working a COVID situation, [some] have not returned to work and they've gone off either with retirement or they just moved to a different area of health care," said MacMillan.

"Some have left health care and taken other jobs."

Mixed COVID-19 numbers

The weekly COVID-19 numbers show a mixed picture for the province as a whole.

While the number of reported cases continues to go down, the number of hospitalizations are going up.

The province's two regional health authorities are reporting there are 41 people in hospital with COVID-19.

The Department of Health says there were 23 people admitted to hospital last week because of the virus.

Summer slowdown

MacMillan said hospitals are looking at ways to deal with the duelling needs of an overstressed workforce that desperately needs some time off this summer and members of the public who need timely access to healthcare.

He said there are some plans to slow down operations in some hospital departments to make sure there is enough staff to cover for others going on vacation.

"We want New Brunswickers to know that the health-care system is here, it is functional, it is working," said MacMillan.

"It just doesn't potentially look the way it looked three to four years ago because things have certainly changed."

CBC/Zoom
CBC/Zoom

MacMillan said he understands the frustration of patients who are sick, or have a family member who is, and have to contend with long wait times at emergency rooms.

He said there are other options for care New Brunswickers should consider.

"There are other access points in health care. We have virtual care. We have 811. Obviously, primary care is extremely crucial as well," said MacMillan.

"But if you come to emergency with a child who's sick and is in need of emergent care, you will get it."

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