Norfolk General Hospital is asking patients for patience as a persistent staff shortage at the Simcoe hospital means reduced services and longer wait times in the ER.
“We are experiencing significant capacity and staffing pressures,” hospital spokesperson Aaron Gautreau said in a statement.
Having staff members off sick with COVID-19 or because of exposure to the virus further strains employees who are “already stretched beyond their limits,” Gautreau said.
As a result, the hospital asks that only people with medical emergencies come to the emergency department. People in need of non-urgent medical care are asked to call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, seek advice online through Health Connect Ontario, or visit a pharmacy or walk-in clinic.
In recent months, the hospital has cited lack of staff as the reason for the continued closure of Norfolk General’s delivery ward — which has forced expectant parents to travel to neighbouring communities to give birth — and the drug and alcohol detox program at Holmes House, a treatment centre run by the hospital.
Gautreau said the hospital is bringing in reinforcements from “regional partners” while continuing to recruit new nurses and other hospital staff — a challenge, he noted, since virtually every health-care setting in the country is short-staffed.
“We know people are growing tired of the pandemic and that frustration remains high,” Gautreau said.
“However, we need everyone to show a little more kindness and respect to staff, nurses, and physicians who continue to selflessly work around the clock to provide care to those who need it most. We are here to help you and require your co-operation, patience and support in order to do so.”
J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator