The emergency department at the Perth hospital will reopen on July 24, three weeks after it was forced to close due to staffing shortages.

The Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital has announced the emergency department will reopen on Sunday, July 24 at 7:30 a.m. The emergency department will reopen 24 hours a day.

"While we all need to acknowledge that the risks posed by COVID are ever-present, we have developed a strong plan to ensure that we can re-establish Emergency services to our community," President and CEO Michael Cohen said in a statement.

"I want to thank the staff and physicians for all their hard work and dedication to the communities that we serve."

The emergency department at the Perth hospital initially closed on July 2 because of a COVID-19 outbreak involving staff, with all patients transferred to the Smiths Falls hospital emergency department. All available staff were shifted from the Perth hospital to the Smiths Falls hospital.

The emergency department was originally scheduled to be closed for five days, but the closure was extended due to additional COVID-19 cases involving staff.

A long-time doctor told Newstalk 580 CFRA that the outbreak only made a precarious staffing situation worse.

"To be strict about the language; yeah, COVID caused the closure of our emergency department but the reality of it is we have no built-in resilience in our nursing staff," Dr. Alan Drummond said on July 2.

Drummond says the hospital went from 15 emergency room nurses down to seven in June, and then half of them were sidelined by COVID-19.

The hospital in Perth is one of two in eastern Ontario that's been forced to reduce emergency department hours this summer.

The Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria, Ont. is closing its emergency department overnights until Aug 3. due to a shortage of nurses.

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Ted Raymond