The Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) says that, starting on Wednesday, Jul. 20, it will begin limiting the daily number of patients seen at the Urgent Care Centre (UCC) at its Hotel Dieu Hospital site.
“Moving forward, the UCC will provide care for up to 120 patients each day,” the hospital said in an advisory. “The UCC team will determine daily how many patients it can safely care for depending on the complexity of conditions needing to be addressed, the number of physicians and nurses available, the status of the Emergency Department (ED) at the Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site, as well as wait times for registered patients at UCC to be assessed.”
As a result, the hospital said, it is expected the UCC may close earlier than 8:00 p.m. several days per week.
“With ongoing physician and staff shortages and growing patient volumes through the pandemic, hospitals across the country including KHSC, have been forced to make difficult decisions,” said KHSC’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick. “We have exhausted all other options and recognize the inconvenience this will cause for some people in our community. We ask everyone to help us preserve care for those who need it most and only come to the UCC if your health concern is indeed urgent.”
KHSC said that by introducing this change, KHSC will also be able to concentrate physician resources at the Emergency Department at the KGH site. “As the trauma centre for southeastern Ontario, the ED must always have enough resources to care for the sickest individuals, including those who have experienced serious injuries, heart attacks, strokes and difficulty breathing,” the hospital said.
“High patient volumes, coupled with an increase in the complexity of the healthcare needs of our patients, makes it very challenging to ensure we spend the appropriate amount of time with each individual to deliver high-quality care,” said Dr. Tim Chaplin, Medical Director of KHSC’s Emergency Medicine Program.
“We currently have a number of physician and nursing vacancies and recruiting is an ongoing effort. It’s difficult to simply hire because there aren’t enough people to fill all the hospital vacancies in Ontario and it takes time to recruit and train specialists such as emergency and urgent care doctors and nurses.”
According to the hospital, patients who arrive after the doors have closed will be encouraged to seek care elsewhere, such as a walk-in or virtual care clinic if they are unable to wait for the UCC to reopen the following morning. “After hours, all individuals who have emergent medical concerns such as uncontrolled bleeding or pain, or serious trouble breathing are encouraged to go to the closest emergency department,” the advisory said, encouraging residents to learn more about alternate options for medical care by visiting www.rightplacerightcare.ca.