Staff shortages, overflowing ER plague Burlington’s Jo Brant Hospital in July

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Published August 5, 2022 at 11:01 am

Joseph Brant’s emergency department was overflowing in July and officials of the Burlington hospital are pointing to several factors.

Eric Vandewall, Jo Brant’s president and CEO, said there are many factors at work, including staff absence due to illness, an increase in the number of people seeking hospital care, and patients who are ready to leave the hospital but are waiting for home care or placement in a retirement home or long-term care


“When a patient cannot be safely discharged, it affects the length of time it can take to admit a new patient who needs our care,” said Vandewall in a statement released by the hospital.

“We know waiting for care is difficult for everyone involved. Our ED staff and physicians are working as hard as they can to see each patient as quickly as possible. We ask for your patience, understanding and kindness as we work to care for you and your loved one in the ED, and that you consider your healthcare options before visiting the Emergency Department. This will be especially important as we enter the next wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the seasonal wave of non-COVID illnesses.”

Vandewall said the frontline staff is stretched thin due to a nationwide shortage of healthcare providers to step in to relieve the pressure they are experiencing. Many important clinical professionals – including nurses, laboratory and diagnostic imaging technicians – are in short supply at JBH and across the province.

In July, acute occupancy exceeded 100 per cent at JBH and workforce vacancy rate is 8.82 per cent. As of Aug. 3, 40 healthcare workers were off work due to COVID-19. Approximately 2,655 people are waiting for surgery at JBH.

While continuing to work toward long-term solutions, Vandewall said work is underway to provide some immediate relief, including:

  • Focusing on infection prevention and control to protect the health and safety of everyone working or staying in the hospital. Reducing the risk of infection among patients, physicians and staff is key to preventing outbreaks and keeping staff healthy and able to work
  • Working with local partners such as Home and Community services, Long Term Care, and community agencies to ensure that patients receive the supports they need after they are discharged from hospital, and to reduce the need for readmission to hospital
  • Accelerating recruitment efforts
  • Employing care models that provide safe, quality care as the workforce is stabilized
  • Working with other hospitals in the region to ensure patients are able to access the care they need, when they need it

“Our staff and physicians have been through a grueling two-and-a-half years with little time to recover from the physical and emotional toll of the pandemic. We are grateful to them for their self-sacrifice and unwavering commitment to caring for our community. Our frontline team of physicians, staff, and volunteers have endured what feels like endless waves of this pandemic.”

“I am so proud of our team here at JBH. Every staff member and physician makes a unique and vital contribution to our hospital. I believe that it is our people that make JBH a great community teaching hospital, and we are so fortunate to have this team of professionals working here at JBH every day.”

“Our community has also stood behind us throughout the pandemic. Your support has been so important to our team. Please take the time to thank a physician, nurse, or health care worker who you may know, let them know how much they are appreciated and valued, let them know you understand the challenges they face every day in their workplace.”

“We have persevered through this pandemic together, and we will continue to do so to make sure everyone crosses the finish line together, with our heads held high, proud of the contributions we have made together for the health of our community.”

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