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CGMH Health Human Resource Challenges Begin Impacting some Services

Collingwood General and Marine Hospital (CGMH), along with a number of other hospitals across Ontario, continues to experience health human resource (HHR) challenges, which are impacting some services through the summer months.

An immediate concern for CGMH is the ability to provide critical care support within our ICU. Despite best efforts, CGMH has already seen the impacts of HHR challenges over the past two months, as the hospital's ICU has been placed on reduced capacity on a couple of weekends. Patients arriving at CGMH for critical care will always be cared for, but in the event of reduced capacity due to specialty nursing challenges, patients may have to be stabilized and transferred to another facility to receive specialized services. Over the next several weeks, the number of transfers may increase based on staffing numbers. CGMH continues to work through our recruitment efforts in this area.

"The hospital is continuously working to achieve baseline staffing through the summer, while trying to respect and support the need for employee vacations, as time away from work is extremely important for the mental health and well-being of our teams," says Mike Lacroix, CGMH President & CEO. "Our employees and physicians are doing a tremendous job working through the current challenges here at CGMH, which are similar to what most Ontario hospitals are facing. After two long years of the pandemic, I can't say enough about our CGMH Team for their ongoing commitment to patient care. Even in the face of adversity, our CGMH Team continues to focus on the patient experience, which is evident in the number of commendations we receive from patients each week."

Conversations regarding temporarily reducing admissions to inpatient units, reducing the number of beds in the ED and reducing the Operating Room (OR) list, continue to happen daily among operations and physician leaders. While none of the above has occurred yet, these conversations are ongoing.

The hospital's Laboratory also continues to experience health human resource challenges, due to a Medical Laboratory Technologist (MLT) shortage across Canada. CGMH continues to recruit new employees through various social channels and job boards. Several mitigation strategies are in place to maintain the current laboratory services.

"Thank you to CGMH patients, visitors and the South Georgian Bay community, for your ongoing patience and adaptability," says Lauren Tindall, Vice President Patient Experience. "Team CGMH continues to strive in achieving 'outstanding care for life' as we work through the current challenges we are faced with."

Hospitals across Ontario are reporting significantly higher than usual wait times in Emergency Departments (ED), while some hospitals have even had to close their ED doors to the public, due to health human resource challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. This has not occurred at CGMH. The hospital's ED remains open to the public and in emergency situations, CGMH reminds the public to call 911.

To help provide patients and families with the most up to date information related to ED wait times, CGMH has just launched an externally facing ED wait time clock on its website, also viewable from any mobile device, to provide patients and family members with an estimated wait time to be seen by a physician.

With the growing HHR challenges and rising ED wait times across the province, the ED wait time clock will provide transparency around current wait times at CGMH and will also help to manage expectations by providing real-time information to our patients and their families.

CGMH continues to work through the current challenges on a day-by-day basis and has contingency plans in place should any services need to change.

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