KHSC ‘can no longer be safety-net,’ pleads for cooperation ahead of Queen’s Homecoming

KGH illuminated at night. Photo by Phillip Stafford/Kingstonist.

Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) is asking the community to “seriously reconsider” attending unsanctioned Homecoming celebrations this coming weekend. The hospital organization has “put plans in place” to support an increase in patient demand, but said that these events put an additional strain on hospital resources.

“I think we need to have a serious discussion as a community about the impact these large unsanctioned events, that are no longer just limited to Homecoming weekend, are having on our hospital. Large street parties like we see during Homecoming weekend now take place multiple times per year and are putting an extreme strain on an already overburdened health care system,” said KHSC President and CEO Dr. David Pichora.

“We continue to experience significant staffing shortages across multiple programs and departments. We also continue to see increasing volumes of patients needing care on a regular day-to-day basis, which have already resulted in longer wait-times in the Emergency Department (ED). I have communicated to both the City of Kingston and Queen’s University that within our current resources, we can no-longer be considered the safety-net for these kinds of events.”

This past weekend, KHSC received an additional 15 patients in the ED related to the “Faux Homecoming” unsanctioned event, according to a press release from the organization on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. While the hospital did open extra space, the majority of the patients that arrived required much more complex care than is usually provided in these overflow areas.

“It’s really concerning that the patients who arrived required such resource-intensive care,” Dr. Pichora stated. “Not only as a result of substance abuse, but also with serious injuries, including broken bones and severe lacerations. We’re also seeing growing reports the last few years of dangerous behaviour exhibited during these events including intoxicated individuals climbing roofs and hydro poles, throwing bottles at first responders and additional instances of violence such as stabbings, shootings, and assaults. 

“We continue to feel the ongoing impact of the pandemic, and as the largest hospital in the region, we must continue to be able to support the sickest and most critically ill people from across Southeastern Ontario. We need to ensure that everyone can access the care they require in the right place at the right time.”

While KHSC has again put plans in place in preparation for this weekend, including opening additional care areas and bringing in extra nurses, doctors, registration staff, security and housekeeping, among many other roles, KHSC is asking for support from the community as well.

According to the release, individuals looking to access the ED at the Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site are asked to prepare for longer wait times for anything other than the most urgent conditions. Those with less urgent needs are asked to consider other health care options this weekend. To learn about other venues for alternate care visit

“If you are suffering a life-threatening or critical illness or injury, please call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest Emergency Department and we will be here for you,” said Dr. Pichora. “I can assure you that our teams are doing everything in their power to get to you as quickly as possible. But we ask for your patience and understanding this weekend.”

3 thoughts on “KHSC ‘can no longer be safety-net,’ pleads for cooperation ahead of Queen’s Homecoming

  • Dr. Pichora need offer no apology on behalf of KHSC.

    In a time of medical staff, facility and equipment shortages, the City of Kingston its taxpayers and the dependent taxpayers of surrounding rural areas continue to bear the brunt of the mismanagement of Queen’s.

    Hockey Canada sloughed off the cost of its mismanagement onto others and Queen’s has been taking an equally high road for years.

  • “An additional 15 patients” pushes the hospital beyond its capacity? Heaven help us if a bus crashes on the 401 and say 16 people need care. Perhaps it’s time to take a close look at everything the hospital does and re-focus resources? Of course, if resources are perfectly allocated then its time to query that if 15 additional patients can tip this hospital over the edge that maybe people need to dig a little deeper and pay a little more in taxes to properly fund the hospital. It’s not acceptable that 15 additional patients so stretches capacity of the hospital that Dr. Pichora feels it necessary to tell Kingston and Queens that it can no longer be considered the safety net. Tough message for Dr. Pichora to deliver. The solution however isn’t to ask people to “avoid accidents”.

    • People such as you, Mike, do not appear to fully comprehend the health crisis that exists. KHSC is a world renowned hospital and we are fortunate to have it. The pandemic has pushed an already strained group of health care workers even further as more people require care and there are fewer health care workers doing the work due to burn out and many choosing to leave the health care field because of the working conditions. Have you not heard of community hospitals closing emergency departments due to lack of staff?

      Queens homecoming street parties are not a bus crash; they are unsanctioned, illegal and irresponsible behaviour that adds unnecessary stress on our emergency services and healthcare workers, and financial burden on tax payers. Refocus resources?! That’s amusing. The resources we lack the most are staff to do the work. Yes, funding is an issue and has been for quite some time, but lack of manpower is at the forefront of our current crisis.

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