The Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital and Montfort Hospital in Ottawa say “unprecedented shortage of nurses” has forced them to make the difficult decision of temporarily closing their emergency rooms this weekend.
Montfort will close overnight on Saturday and Sunday.
Carleton Place hospital’s ER will close for a full 24 hours starting at 7 am, on Saturday and reopening at 7 am, on Sunday.
Montfort called the closure “partial and temporary” because it will still accept ambulances, but the last patients will be admitted at 7 pm, before the hospital closes its doors to the public between 7:30 pm and 7:30 am
Residents seeking care will be asked to travel to the nearest alternate emergency room, a press release issued Friday said.
The release states rest of hospital operations will continue as usual with continued COVID-19 restrictions in place for visiting patients’ bedsides.
Carleton Place & District Hospital will staff the emergency room with one nurse and one doctor for those who arrive, unaware of the closure, a press release said.
It directs those seeking emergency care to hospitals in Perth, Arnprior, Almonte and west Ottawa, as they are the closest. It says the rest of the hospital is operating as normal.
Ambulances will take people to the nearest open hospital, but also suggests prospective patients speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day by calling Telehealth Ontario.
Nursing association says closures growing
Cathryn Hoy, the president of the Ontario Nurses Association, called the closure at the Carleton Place hospital “shocking.”
“That’s in Ottawa. Yes, they have a big hospital center there, but they need all their emergencies open,” she told CBC’s All In A Day.
The association estimated there were 25 hospitals closed over the long weekend because of staff shortages. Hoy says that’s likely closer to 50 across the province now. She also cautioned that not all closures are announced.
“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you add it up, those closures back up your emerge. Those closures mean surgeries can’t happen,” she said.
In spite of all our efforts, the Montfort ED must close partially and temporarily:
– August 6 and 7
– between 7:30 PM and 7:30 AM
On Saturday and Sunday night, we will accept the last patients at around 7PM.
We remain open for ambulances.
Reasons for closures
Montfort said it is experiencing the same pressures as hospitals across the province and it has been feeling the strain intensely in the last few weeks.
It attributes the hospital’s staffing shortages to fatigue and burnout, COVID-19 related absences, and vacations.
“The decision to close the emergency, even for a few hours, is not easy to make, but we have to do it, to ensure our team is able to offer excellent, safe and compassionate care,” the release said.
It goes on to apologize to patients for the inconvenience and thank the hospital’s staff. Montfort declined CBC’s request for an interview.
It is not the first hospital in the Ottawa area to temporarily close its emergency room in recent weeks. Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria, Ont., closed for two weeks in July and was unable to fully reopen as planned with partial closures continuing into August.
Last month, Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital in Perth, Ont., closed its emergency department for several days after a COVID-19 outbreak caused a staffing shortage.