Grey Bruce health Services sees unprecedented demand

Blackburn News file photo.

Grey Bruce Health Services is experiencing an unprecedented demand on services.

A satement from GBHS explained the volume and acuity of patients coming to all six GBHS Emergency Departments, as well as staff vacancies and a lack of available beds, is resulting in system pressures both within GBHS and across the healthcare system.

Beds have been added at the Owen Sound Hospital, although staffing pressures are limiting the number of beds that can be opened. A COVID-19 outbreak at the Lion’s Head Hospital is
temporarily preventing any new admissions to that site. As bed capacity challenges continue, elective surgeries for patients who require an overnight stay may need to be postponed. All
emergency surgeries and elective day surgeries will continue as normal.

To complicate the problem, a lack of availability of long-term care beds and home care supports are making transfers out of hospital difficult. More than 50 inpatients across the corporation are deemed Alternative Level of Care, which means they no longer require hospital care, and are waiting for transfers out of hospital. GBHS is reaching out to regional partners to re-patriate patients where possible, and families are being asked to ensure they have discharge plans in place so patients can be transferred as soon as it is safe to do so.

“As hospital ERs in our region continue to have unscheduled closures, GBHS and other regional partners have very limited staffing resources and bed capacity to support these additional stresses on the system,” said GBHS President and CEO Gary Sims. “I am extremely proud of the staff and physicians who are working under challenging circumstances, and thankful for the
ongoing support of patients and families as we work to deliver care.”

GBHS has so far been able to keep the emergency departments open 24/7 and is reminding the public to call 9-1-1 if they have a medical emergency. For minor issues that can be treated by a
family doctor, please try that option first, or call Health Connect Ontario. This 24/7 phone line allows patients to speak directly to a nurse for advice, and can be reached by calling 8-1-1.
Virtual visits with a GBHS doctor are also available every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.