Ottawa's Montfort Hospital closes ER for second night
The emergency department at the Montfort Hospital is closed for a second straight night, as the hospital in Ottawa's east end deals with an "unprecedented shortage" of nurses.
And the Ottawa Hospital warns its emergency departments at the Civic Campus and General Campus will "likely experience higher-than-usual patient volumes, which will result in much longer wait times."
The Montfort Hospital ER was closed between 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 a.m. Sunday, and will be closed again from 7:30 p.m. Sunday to 7:30 a.m. Monday, forcing residents in the east end needing emergency care to travel eight kilometres to the Ottawa Hospital General Campus.
"You can get sick in the middle of the night. What are you going to do if you have a heart attack in the middle of the night?" said one person outside the Montfort Hospital on Saturday. "You're going to have to go to another hospital."
The emergency department at the Montfort Hospital will remain open for ambulances transporting high acuity patients only, and the rest of the hospital continues to operate "business as usual."
"Staffing pressures, including in the ED, are being felt by hospitals across the country," the Montfort Hospital said in a statement. "These pressures were strongly felt over the course of the past few weeks and due to the unprecedented shortage of nurses at Montfort currently, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily partially close our Emergency Department."
The Montfort Hospital has said operations will return to normal at 7:30 a.m. on Monday.
Residents seeking care Sunday evening are being asked to travel to other emergency departments in the city, but the Ottawa Hospital warns patients could see longer-than-usual wait times in the emergency departments at the Civic Campus and General Campus.
"Due to recent Emergency Department closures in our region, The Ottawa Hospital’s Emergency Departments will likely experience higher-than-usual patient volumes, which will result in much longer wait times," the Ottawa Hospital said on Twitter.
"We know how concerning this can be for patients, and that the waiting can feel long, tiring and difficult. Please know that our teams will continue working as hard as they can to provide care for everyone in need."
The Ottawa Hospital says you should call 911 or visit your closest emergency department in an emergency.
"For non-urgent medical issues, please consider visiting a walk-in clinic, urgent care centre, make an appointment with your family doctor, or call Tele-Health Ontario at 811."
The Ontario Nurses Association says other hospitals in Ottawa are dealing with staffing issues as well.
"They are overworked, morale is practically non-existent, they're not getting time off – it's horrendous," said Rachel Muir, ONA Local 83 bargaining president and a registered nurse at the Ottawa Hospital.
Muir says the staffing shortage is affecting care.
"Things are bad. Care is being given but basic care," Muir said on Saturday. "Nurses don't have the time or the personnel or even the equipment to give the care they're trained to give."
Muir says nurses are working overtime on a regular basis to fill the gap in staffing. If you do go to the ER at the Civic Campus this weekend, Muir says expect to wait.
"At the TOH we haven’t reached that critical mass, I’m glad to say, but waits in the emergency room are longer," Muir said. "If you need to be admitted, you’re waiting because these shortages aren’t just in emergency rooms, they’re throughout the institution."
The Queensway Carleton Hospital says patients will experience "longer than usual wait times" in the emergency department this weekend due to patient volumes, while the longest wait to see a doctor at the CHEO emergency department Saturday evening was over three and a half hours.
The Montfort Hospital is not the only hospital temporarily closing its emergency department this weekend due to a staffing shortage. The emergency department at the Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital is closed from 7 a.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. on Sunday.
Other hospitals have closed their emergency departments temporarily throughout the summer. The Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria closed its emergency department for two weeks in July, and partial closures continue this month. The emergency room at the hospital in Perth, Ont. was closed for three weeks in July.
"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 when the Emergency reopens," the Montfort Hospital said.
"We apologize in advance to our patients and their loved ones for the inconvenience this closure may cause."