Community Hospital is warning of longer than usual Emergency Department wait
times amid a province-wide surge in patient volumes, staffing shortages and
lack of available beds.
The months of
May and June saw the highest number of visits to the Cornwall Community
Hospital’s (CCH) Emergency Department in 5 years, all while the hospital
simultaneously deals with a shortage of available healthcare staff and
emergency physicians, and a lack of available beds due to rising numbers of
long-stay Alternate Level of Care (ALC) patients.
The result is
that patients in the Emergency Department are waiting longer to be assessed and
admitted, and staff are enduring increased abuse from frustrated patients and
This is not
unique to Cornwall as the Ontario Hospital Association is reporting that
hospitals throughout the province are experiencing high ALC numbers and
worsening staffing pressures, causing some of the highest provincial wait and
ambulance offload times in more than 10 years.
pandemic has had a profound impact on health human resources. Many healthcare
workers moved to other areas of the healthcare system or left the occupation,
and many smaller communities such as Cornwall face severe physician shortages.
pressures have been exacerbated by the recent closure of the McConnell Medical
Clinic, leaving many people feeling like they have no choice but to visit the
that Emergency Department wait times are long, however we expect that our
hard-working staff and physicians are treated with respect,” urges Jeanette
Despatie, CCH President and Chief Executive Officer, adding that “the hospital
is doing everything we can and using innovative ways to minimize the impact
that these pressures are having on our healthcare system, and to ensure that
our patients can receive the exceptional care they’ve come to know from our
CCH would like
to remind the community that unlike a walk-in clinic, when patients report to
the Emergency Department, staff use a method called triage to determine who
needs to be seen first.
means is that patients are called based on the severity of symptoms rather than
the order they checked in. We understand this can feel frustrating for those
who have waited a long time for care. However, it is standard practice in
hospitals because it ensures that we meet the needs of those requiring
life-saving and urgent procedures. This is also why Emergency Department wait
times are always fluctuating,” explains Despatie.
CCH assures the
community that its Emergency Department team is doing everything possible to
avoid reducing operating hours or closing its doors – like some Emergency
Departments in Ontario have needed to do – and that anyone who comes to the
Emergency Department will be seen by a physician according to the urgency of
their symptoms. “But be prepared to wait and please be kind with staff,” adds
CCH would also
like to remind the community that although it has recently eased some pandemic
restrictions, masks are still required at all times in the hospital, even while
visiting with loved ones at the bedside. This is because the hospital is unique
from other community settings in that it provides care to vulnerable patients,
and many hospital rooms and waiting areas are shared spaces with others who are
ill or recovering.
in our community and as numbers begin to once again rise, we must be cautious
in order to avoid another lockdown in visitation,” says Despatie.
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Cornwall Community Hospital is located on the traditional lands of the Akwesasne Mohawks and their ancestors. We are forever grateful to those who had been on these lands before us and through their stewardship and connection to the land, have made it what it is now. Read our full Land Acknowledgement here.
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