Main entrance at Bluewater Health's Sarnia hospital. Photo by Meghan Bond.

More nurses at Bluewater Health

Bluewater Health will be better prepared to deal with the upcoming flu season thanks to the addition of 62 nurses.

The hospital has hired 173 new nurses over the last year to replace retiring health workers and to be better equipped for times of surge.

CEO Mike Lapaine said a recent increase in the number of patients led to the additional hires.

“What we saw last winter was an unprecedented surge, and even though you could be given resources to open more beds, you need staff to be able to open those beds,” said Lapaine. “And you can’t just hire them a week before that happens, so you have to do a slow buildup, which is what we’ve been doing.”

Lapaine said he couldn’t explain the increase in patient visits, but noted that other hospitals around the province have seen similar spikes.

Lapaine said the additional hires will benefit those patients, as well as staff at the hospital.

“A lot of our staff have stepped-up, and a lot of them are working overtime,” said Lapaine. “We’ve seen statistics that our overtime hours are up, and that’s never a good indicator. I think if we want our staff as healthy as possible to be able to care for their patients, working too much can often not be ideal.”

Lapaine said Bluewater Health is currently operating at a little bit of a deficit, which is a price they’re paying to be prepared for the winter surge.

He said the hospital will be given budget over the surge season if they open additional beds, but that you have to have the staff in place to open the beds.