Hawkesbury and District General Hospital (HGH) has announced a temporary reduction in services as a result of a serious clinical staffing shortage. According to a statement issued by HGH, effective November 1, 2021, two departments are operating at 50 per cent capacity: Perioperative Services (operating rooms) and the Family Birthing Centre. Other inpatient care and outpatient services will continue to operate at planned service levels. 

The decision followed a detailed analysis and forecasts of activity levels and staffing capacity, as well as consultations with several healthcare leaders.

“The nursing shortage has become an urgent issue in Ontario and across the country’s healthcare system. Our unique geographical location and the language needs of HGH patients make the staffing situation even more challenging. As Chief Executive Officer, I made the difficult decision in order to manage the risks to patients and for the well-being of the clinical and medical staff,” said HGH CEO Marc LeBoutillier. The HGH Board of Directors unanimously supported this decision at its October 27 meeting. 

Surgeries and procedures to be postponed and the decrease in the Family Birthing Centre activities will be selected on a set of clear criteria, including, among others, an ethical framework and consideration of the healthcare needs of the patients. The Hospital will notify patients directly affected by this reduction in services. 

“This decision was carefully weighed and taken to ensure the safety of patients and staff. Our teams of clinical staff and physicians are doing their best to reduce the impacts on expecting mothers, patients awaiting treatment and their families,” explained HGH Chief of Staff, Dr. Julie Maranda.  

“We are doing our utmost to balance urgent and elective patient care for our community.” 

HGH urges anyone needing urgent care to come to the Emergency Department. “We would like to thank our community for their support, and all healthcare workers for their continued hard work and dedication throughout the pandemic and during these exceptional times,” said LeBoutillier. 

HGH has not given a specific reason for the serious clinical staffing shortage. The Review contacted the hospital on November 2 seeking further information, but no response was received by publication time. 

A policy requiring mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all HGH employees took effect on October 15. On October 9, HGH Vice President, Human Resources and Corporate Services Gisèle Larocque stated 100 per cent of HGH physicians were vaccinated and 88.1 per cent of all other hospital staff. Larocque anticipated 99.1 of all HGH employees would be vaccinated by October 15.