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‘Significant staff shortage’ forces ICU closure at Bowmanville Hospital


The intensive care unit at Bowmanville Hospital is set to temporarily close due to a “significant staff shortage,” according to the hospital network in Durham Region, with services instead moving to nearby facilities. 

“This decision was not made lightly,” Lakeridge Health said in a statement on Thursday afternoon. 

“We recognize the impact of this temporary relocation on patients and their families.”

Critical care services will be consolidated at Ajax Pickering and Oshawa hospitals, the statement said.

“We continue to assess the situation regularly, with the goal of bringing back critical care services to the Bowmanville Hospital when staffing stabilizes, and it is safe to do so,” it continued.

Lakeridge Health also noted that “many Ontario hospitals” continue to struggle with severe staffing shortages.

For the latest provincewide look at the pandemic follow the link below:

Ontario has already seen ER closures in some areas

The Listowel Wingham Hospital Alliance, which oversees a largely rural health network about 60 kilometres northwest of Kitchener, is implementing limited closures of several emergency departments over the long weekend.

“We regret the need to take this step and are working diligently to return to normal operations.  We thank the community for their understanding,” the organization said in a statement `posted online.

Earlier this month, unions representing some 70,000 hospital workers in Ontario renewed calls the province to address staffing shortages that they said are caused by extreme burnout and low wages.

“This is an exhausted workforce, this is an anxious workforce. It’s ground down by the pandemic, it’s ground down by the lack of support it’s had, and it needs to be supported now in order for it to come through for the people of Ontario,” the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions said at the time. 

Dr. Howard Ovens, who has worked in the emergency department at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto for 40 years, told CBC News that critical care services are at their breaking point.

“Our emergency departments are under more stress than I’ve ever seen in my career,” he said earlier this summer. 

Key factors driving the long wait times are largely spin-off effects of the pandemic: 

  • High rates of staff calling in sick or unable to work because they’ve been exposed to COVID-19. 

  • Patients whose illnesses are more severe, often because they delayed seeking treatment during the big pandemic waves.

  • Hospital wards filled to capacity by trying to catch up on backlogged surgeries and procedures, so that it’s a challenge to squeeze in ER patients who need to be admitted. 

This comes on top of long-standing issues in the system that extend well beyond the doors of the emergency room, including discharge bottlenecks caused by a shortage of long-term care spaces and home-care support. 


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