N.B. hospital diverting ambulances due to overcrowding, staff shortages
A New Brunswick hospital has temporarily closed multiple departments and will divert patients elsewhere due to staff shortages and extreme overcrowding.
Campbellton Regional Hospital, which has 145 beds, has been struggling to accommodate almost 200 patients, many of whom are waiting to be placed in nursing homes.
The scenario has put the hospital’s ability to function at risk, according to Vitalité Health Network president and CEO Gilles Lanteigne.
“There is no more room in the hospital and our ability to provide safe and high-quality care is being compromised,” Lanteigne said in a statement.
About 70 of the hospital’s beds are occupied by what the hospital calls alternate level of care patients, who no longer require hospitalization and are oftentimes waiting to be placed in nursing homes.
“This is an extremely urgent situation and we need everyone’s collaboration and understanding during this difficult period,” Lanteigne said.
Closed units include obstetrics and gynecology, surgery and outpatients.
The health network that oversees the hospital said in a statement that the situation will be “re-evaluated’ on a daily basis.
New Brunswick Health Minister Ted Flemming said in a press conference that officials were aware of shortages before the closure, and linked the problem to the province’s aging population. According to the most recent census data from 2016, about one in five people in New Brunswick is 65 or older.
"We're saying we're running out of people, we've said this, that there is a storm gathering here, the grey tsunami they call it. People are aging,” he said.
Hospital closures have been a problem across Atlantic Canada. In Nova Scotia, 11 of the province’s 37 emergency rooms were forced to close in August due to the unavailability of doctors. One doctor said that she’d seen people who’d suffered cardiac arrests in the waiting room and triage area.”