Top Niagara Health officials say no ‘fast fix’ for staffing shortages

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Published August 9, 2022 at 12:21 pm

Much like every health unit across Ontario, Niagara Health is seeing a “serious shortage” of healthcare workers in its hospital for every department and top officials are warning there is no “quick fix” to the problem.

In a joint release from President and CEO Lynn Guerriero and Chief of Staff, and Executive Vice President, Medical Affairs Dr. Johan Viljoen, staffers that are present are far two overworked as it is.


“Our staff and physicians are working full out to maintain service levels – including taking extra shifts and postponing their scheduled vacations and the regular time off they need to rest and recover after maintaining a grueling pace since the pandemic began,” the pair said.

More alarmingly, they added, “There is no fast fix, no one answer to address the cause, effect or solution to the challenges that have emerged from, or been exacerbated by, the pandemic.”

With a nod to every aspect of healthcare, they added, “These challenges are being felt across the broader healthcare system – in hospitals, home and community care, long-term care and primary care.”

They offered up some disturbing numbers from their emergency departments, saying during the month of July, most ED patients waited 4.6 hours to see a physician, while most Urgent Care Centre (UCC) patients waited 2.8 hours to see a physician.

However, there was some hope in their message about the future, saying they have a number of measures underway to alleviate staffing pressures and mitigate service impacts. These include:

  • Aggressive recruitment and retention of healthcare workers, which is taking place amid a national shortage of trained professionals;
  • Temporary staffing and shift reductions in some units in urgent staffing situations to minimize the impact on service continuity;
  • Supplementing nursing staff in the EDs with other members of our team so that nurses can dedicate themselves to direct patient care;
  • Exploring care delivery models beyond the traditional physician-and-nurse-centric model to a broader team approach using the full skillsets of all professional disciplines;
  • Working with family physicians and other primary care partners to enhance resources in the community to serve residents close to home and place an increased focus on preventative care;
  • Working with academic partners to enhance opportunities for education and training to attract and retain future healthcare workers in Niagara.

 

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