Hamilton Health Sciences CEO calls for ‘swift’ action to fix COVID-ravaged health-care system


Published February 24, 2022 at 10:14 am

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The president and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is calling for ‘swift’ action to address problems in health care that have intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an op-ed piece published Thursday (Feb. 24), HHS’s Rob MacIsaac outlined some of the impacts of the pandemic on the Canadian health-care system and how, in its current state, communities will be left vulnerable unless efforts are made to fix it.

“The pandemic widened pre-existing stress fractures in the sustainability and resilience of our health care system.,” MacIsaac wrote.

“There are three broad categories of repairs deserving swift attention – improving population health, modernizing healthcare infrastructure, and bolstering health human resources.”

MacIsaac called on the government to increase health spending to address backlogs caused by the pandemic and to invest in improving access to care for vulnerable populations.

He also noted that in order to address future pandemics, the country’s ageing health-care facilities will need to be upgraded and expanded.

“We cannot confront 21st-century health problems inside hundred-year-old facilities,” he wrote.

“This was made evident during the pandemic as COVID-19 spread quickly through outdated hospital wards built to meet infection standards from a bygone era.”

Locally, the strain on the health-care resources has been as Hamiton hospital ICU capacities have hovered near 100 per cent, or higher, during the latest wave of COVID-19 fuelled by the Omicron variant.

HHS’s West End Urgent Care Centre remains closed as staff at the facility have been redeployed to other departments struggling with an influx of patients and staffing shortages.

In his op-ed piece, MacIsaac also touched on this issue:

“Prior to 2019, vacancies for healthcare workers needed in growing hospital services were already not being filled,” he wrote.

“As one example, surgical nursing shortages were evident across Canada. This situation has worsened during the pandemic, as workers retire or exit healthcare for other reasons.

“More skilled workers were needed before the pandemic and the situation now poses a critical risk to the sustainability of quality healthcare.”

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