Hawkesbury and District General Hospital (HGH) is considering overnight closures of its emergency department because of staffing shortages. An internal memo from hospital management is urging all « off-duty personnel » to take on additional shifts in the face of hundreds of staff members calling in sick.
« The situation is more serious than it has ever been in the course of the pandemic, » the memo said. « In the 100-year history of HGH, we have not had to close our [emergency department]. The closure has an impact on many families who will be required to travel considerably further for emergency services. »
The hospital has enough rapid-antigen tests to shorten the time for some staff members to get back to work, but they don’t have access to more, and they don’t have enough for everyone. Dr. Julie Maranda, medical chief of staff at HGH, stated the hospital is working night and day to avoid getting to the point of closure.
HGH declared a COVID-19 outbreak in one of its in-patient units on January 4. The outbreak is small and contained, she said, but fits the definition of a hospital outbreak because it involves at least two cases within 14 days.
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, said that although stress is high at the HGH, it hasn’t reached the point of letting infected workers stay on the job to keep hospitals open like in Quebec.