Kingston Health Sciences Centre will limit the number of patients that can visit the Urgent Care Centre at Hotel Dieu Hospital each day.
Starting Wednesday, the Urgent Care Centre will be able to take 120 patients per day.
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KHSC said the decision is in part due to staff shortages. The urgent care team will assess each day how many patients it can care for, depending on a variety of factors, such as the complexity of cases, the number of physicians and nurses available, and times for patients.
“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 Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, KHSC’s chief of staff.
“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.”
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KHSC said as a result of the decision, the Urgent Care Centre could close earlier than 8 p.m. several days per week.
For those who arrive after the doors have closed at the Urgent Care Centre at Hotel Dieu, KHSC recommends finding care elsewhere, such as walk-in or virtual care clinics, if they are unable to wait until urgent care opens the next morning.
After the Urgent Care Centre is closed, all individuals who have emergency medical concerns, such as uncontrolled bleeding or pain, or serious trouble breathing, should go to the closest emergency department.
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“High patient volumes, coupled with an increase in the complexity of the healthcare needs of our patients, make 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.”
For now, KHSC said it will concentrate physician resources in the emergency department at Kingston General Hospital.
The health organization said that since KGH is the trauma centre for southeastern Ontario, the emergency department must always have enough resources to care for the sickest individuals, including those who have experienced serious injuries, heart attacks, strokes and difficulty breathing.
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