Urgent care centre in Fort Erie closing temporarily due to Omicron, says Niagara Health

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Published January 4, 2022 at 8:11 pm

Temporarily closing the urgent care centre in Fort Erie is one of several moves Niagara Health is making due to their Omicron-caused staffing shortage.

The hospital network announced Tuesday that it will close the Fort Erie Urgent Care Centre at Douglas Memorial Hospital at 11 p.m. on Thursday (Jan. 6). Niagara Health is also re-assigning emergency-trained physicians and nurses to their emergency departments “where they are most needed,” a media release.

The same release said that Niagara Health has 354 staff members in self-isolation. That is nearly two-and-a-half times as many as the 146 employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks. Additionally, NH are caring for 104 patients who are positive with COVID-19 and managing five outbreaks at our Niagara Falls and St. Catharines sites. Its extended-care unit at the Welland Site is also in outbreak.

The three emergency departments see about 400 patients each day.

“This wave of the pandemic is beyond anything we have experienced. We have exhausted all options, and the temporary closure of the Urgent Care Centre is a measure of last resort,” Lynn Guerriero, Niagara Health president and CEO, said in a statement. “Our healthcare teams continue to provide care to our patients with professionalism and compassion. Our urgent care team members have a unique set of skills that are urgently needed in our Emergency Departments, and we are grateful for their commitment to Niagara.”

Visits to an urgent care centres are generally not life-threatening and can often be examined in primary care settings. Niagara Health says residents who need healthcare should first contact their primary care provider. The closest urgent care centre to Fort Erie is in Port Colborne (260 Sugarloaf St.), and it remains open for the time being.

“Temporarily closing the Fort Erie urgent Care Centre was a decision that was not taken lightly,” said Bunny Alexander, chair of the Niagara Health board of directors. “The board of directors and senior leadership agreed that we need to take this step to address staffing shortages and maintain essential services for the high volumes of patients in our community needing emergency care. Other hospitals throughout the province have taken similar measures throughout the pandemic.”

Niagara Health says it has reached maximum capacity in its ICUs and has opened eight additional critical care beds.

The hospital network is postponing outpatient cataract surgeries. Next week, scheduled inpatient surgeries will resume at 30 per cent, focusing on cancer and other urgent cases.

More information about accessing healthcare is available at niagarahealth.on.ca/KnowYourOptions.

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