Effective Thursday, January 6, at 11 p.m., we are temporarily closing the Urgent Care Centre at our Fort Erie Site in order to redeploy our emergency-trained physicians and nurses to our Emergency Departments (ED) where they are most needed.
Despite undertaking all available measures to alleviate staffing pressures in our EDs, there continues to be an immediate need for these highly-trained nurses’ and physicians’ skills and experience. Our three EDs are open 24/7 and see an average of 400 patient visits each day.
“Temporarily closing the Fort Erie Urgent Care Centre was a decision that was not taken lightly,” says Bunny Alexander, Chair of the Niagara Health Board of Directors. “The Board of Directors and Senior Leadership agreed that we need to take this step to address staffing shortages and maintain essential services for the high volumes of patients in our community needing emergency care. Other hospitals throughout the province have taken similar measures throughout the pandemic.”
This decision is part of a larger plan to temporarily prioritize care for patients who need critical, emergency and acute care services because of the escalating impact of the Omicron variant on our patient volumes and staffing levels.
We are currently caring for 104 patients who are positive with COVID-19 and managing five outbreaks at our Niagara Falls and St. Catharines sites. Our Extended Care Unit at the Welland Site is also in outbreak and following long-term care guidelines.
There are currently 354 staff members in self-isolation. Since Dec. 21, 146 of our staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
This week, we are postponing outpatient cataract surgeries. Next week, scheduled inpatient surgeries will resume at 30%, focusing on cancer and other urgent cases. We reached maximum capacity in our Intensive Care Unit and have opened eight additional critical care beds. We’ve created additional inpatient acute care capacity and have redeployed staff to care for these patients.
“This wave of the pandemic is beyond anything we have experienced. We have exhausted all options, and the temporary closure of the Urgent Care Centre is a measure of last resort,” says Lynn Guerriero, Niagara Health President and CEO. “Our healthcare teams continue to provide care to our patients with professionalism and compassion. Our Urgent Care team members have a unique set of skills that are urgently needed in our Emergency Departments, and we are grateful for their commitment to Niagara.”
Visits to our Urgent Care Centres are not life-threatening and generally speaking could be seen in primary care settings. Members of the community seeking healthcare should first contact their primary care provider. Our Urgent Care Centre in Port Colborne remains open and people can also access virtual urgent care services at www.UrgentCareOntario.ca. In an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest Emergency Department. For more information, please visit the Niagara Health website at www.niagarahealth.on.ca/KnowYourOptions.