Like hospitals across the province, Grey Bruce Health Services (GBHS) is experiencing an unprecedented demand on services. The volume and acuity of patients coming to all six GBHS Emergency Departments, staff vacancies and a lack of available beds is resulting in system pressures both within GBHS and across the healthcare system.
“As hospital ERs in our region continue to have unscheduled closures, GBHS and other regional partners have very limited staffing resources and bed capacity to support these additional stresses on the system,” said GBHS President and CEO Gary Sims. “I am extremely proud of the staff and physicians who are working under challenging circumstances, and thankful for the ongoing support of patients and families as we work to deliver care.”
Beds have been added at the Owen Sound Hospital, although staffing pressures are limiting the number of beds that can be opened. A COVID-19 outbreak at the Lion’s Head Hospital is temporarily preventing any new admissions to that site. As bed capacity challenges continue, elective surgeries for patients who require an overnight stay may need to be postponed. All emergency surgeries and elective day surgeries will continue as normal.
Lack of availability of long-term care beds and home care supports are making transfers out of hospital difficult. More than 50 inpatients across the corporation are deemed Alternative Level of Care, which means they no longer require hospital care, and are waiting for transfers out of hospital. GBHS is reaching out to regional partners to re-patriate patients where possible, and families are being asked to ensure they have discharge plans in place so patients can be transferred as soon as it is safe to do so.
GBHS has so far been able to keep the emergency departments open 24/7 and is reminding the public to call 9-1-1 if they have a medical emergency. For minor issues that can be treated by a family doctor, please try that option first, or call Health Connect Ontario. This 24/7 phone line allows patients to speak directly to a nurse for advice, and can be reached by calling 8-1-1.
Virtual visits with a GBHS doctor are also available every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm. For information, visit https://www.gbhs.on.ca/virtual-urgent-care/