GUYSBOROUGH – The Guysborough Memorial Hospital (GMH) emergency department (ED) was closed from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on April 12.
Closure of the ED has become a regular occurrence in recent years but on this occasion the reason proffered by Nova Scotia Health (NSH) differed from the usual cause, a shortfall in physician coverage. This time, the closure was due to a shortage of nursing staff.
This spring, GMH has increased its complement of physicians – adding two to the roster with more expected in the coming months. More nurses are coming onboard as well but problems such as last week’s ED closure persist.
The Journal asked NSH to explain the cause of the nursing shortage last week and was told via email, “The unavailability of nurses is not due to vacancies per se, more so a short-term temporary absence due to other reasons.”
The email went on to say that GMH has 10 full-time RNs, “Almost all of whom are either qualified or developing competency to work in the emergency department.”
Another new RN is expected to begin work at GMH in late May and one vacancy is coming up at the end of April. NSH has posted that employment opportunity on the NSH Jobs webpage.
At a time when almost 600 healthcare workers are off the job per week, for COVID-related reasons, data reported by CBC news on April 12, staffing shortages resulting in ED closures are expected.
Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal