On April 24, we made the difficult but necessary decision to transition 10 inpatient beds currently at the Durham hospital site to the Walkerton and Kincardine sites. This is due to a critical shortage of staff, which is anticipated to intensify during the summer season and will come into effect on June 3rd.

We understand your concerns and want to assure you that this decision was made with the safety of our patients and staff top of mind. The South Bruce Grey Health Centre (SBGHC) leadership team and Board reviewed all options before coming to this decision. We do not have enough staff to keep both inpatient care and emergency services open at the Durham site. Relocating these beds allows us to protect access to urgent and emergent services in Durham.

We are committed to keeping the Durham site open and providing care at that site to the community. Patients in need of urgent medical attention can continue to access the Durham site daily from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

We will continue to work with both the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health to ensure all SBGHC sites continue to provide care to our communities.

Please find responses to some frequently asked questions below.

Questions & Answers

Are you closing the Durham site? 

  • No. We are not closing the Durham site through this change.
  • I want to assure you that we are committed to keeping the Durham site open and providing high quality care to our patients.
  • Patients in need of urgent medical attention can continue to access the Durham site daily from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

What does this mean for patients who come to the Durham site and need inpatient care?

  • Patients can continue to access care at the Durham site.
  • Patients who need to be admitted will be transferred to another hospital such as South Bruce Grey Health Centre’s Chesley or Walkerton sites.
  • This process is already in place to ensure our patients are getting the right care in the right place.

How is SBGHC handing job applications for nurses? 

  • We currently have a shortage of registered nurses (RNs) and review every new application we receive.
  • Registered nurses are highly skilled and have completed more training than other nursing classifications such as registered practical nurses (RPNs).
  • All candidates who are qualified for the position and meet the criteria are considered for a job at South Bruce Grey Health Centre.
  • In the last six months have received 16 applications for RN positions in Durham.
    • 12 of these applications were from out of country/out of region applicants who were not aware of the location of the job, and not interested in relocating or interviewing.
    • Of the four other applicants, one did not meet the hiring requirements for the positions, two are currently in the interview process, and one was hired.

Why was this change announced so quickly?

  • These changes are not taking place until June 3 so our teams can prepare for the safe and smooth movement of patients and the beds.
  • We must make these changes before the summer as we do not have enough staff to keep both inpatient care and emergency services open. By doing this, we hope to avoid regular closures at the Durham Site.
  • We are making this change to ensure the safety of our patients and our staff.
  • By announcing now, we will be able to create stable staffing schedules for the summer.

Did you consider alternative options before making this decision?

  • We explored all options available to us in advance of making this decision.
  • After reviewing all options, the SBGHC leadership team and Board agreed that this was the only option to keep the site open with adequate staff.
  • We have been undertaking recruitment initiatives for years and have been complementing our staffing with agency nurses.
  • Despite these efforts, we still do not have enough staff to keep both inpatient care and emergency services at the Durham site.
  • This decision was our only option and was made in the best interest of our patients and staff.

What does this mean for nursing staff at the Durham site?

  • Nursing staff will continue working at the Durham site daily from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, providing the incredible care they are known for.
  • The transition of the inpatient beds will not result in any job loss.

Was this decision made for financial reasons?

  • No, this decision is not about cutting costs.
  • The decision to transition the inpatient beds from Durham was made due to a critical shortage of staff at the site.
  • Simply put, we do not have enough staff to keep both inpatient care and emergency services at the Durham site.
  • Relocating these beds is what will allow us to keep the Durham site open at the with the staff we have.

Why was there no consultation with the municipality/ health system partners about this decision?

  • Over the last year, SBGHC has been in frequent communication with our health system including Brightshores Health System, Hanover and District Hospital and others
  • We have also met regularly with the mayors of West Grey, Arran-Elderslie, Brockton, Kincardine, and our EMS and police partners to discuss the challenges we are experiencing and how we plan to address them.
  • They are aware of the challenges we have been facing and were informed of the transition of the Durham beds in advance of the announcement.
  • We are committed to working with our partners collaboratively to create a connected system of care for our patients.

Is this a temporary or permanent move? Is there a plan to move the beds back to Durham if we get more staff?

  • At this point in time, SBGHC is indefinitely moving the inpatient beds from Durham to Walkerton and Kincardine.
  • Currently there are not enough staff to provide both inpatient and emergency services at the Durham site.
  • The shortage of health care workers is a problem across Canada.
  • While we do not anticipate having a solution for our staffing shortage anytime soon, the leadership team is open to re-evaluate the situation should more qualified registered nurses come to work in Durham.

What impact does this change have on the new long-term care home and EMS base in Durham?

  • We are committed to maintaining access to high-quality care for the residents of the Rockwood Terrace long-term care home, and the Durham site will remain accessible.
  • If a resident is in need of admission, they will be transferred to the nearest site.
  • Grey County EMS services the broader community, and will continue to do so.
  • These are both services that operate independently of the hospital.
  • There are many long-term care homes and paramedic services stations across the province that are situated in locations where there is not a hospital located, and Durham still has a hospital, just not inpatient beds.
  • Unfortunately, we needed to make this decision quickly to comply with the collective agreement language, and therefore were not afforded the opportunity to engage with LTC and EMS on process pieces in advance, but these conversations will occur prior to the transition

Who set all this in motion – the leadership team, board or government?

  • The reality is, we are facing a severe shortage of nurses at the Durham site.
  • Because of these shortages, swift action needed to be taken to preserve access to care at the Durham site.
  • The leadership team and Board reviewed several options and came to the conclusion that transitioning the beds from the Durham site was the only option to preserve emergency services in Durham.

Why didn’t SBGHC implement the proposed staffing schedule put forward by nurses at Durham?

  • SBGHC thanks the nurses at the Durham site for their tireless work to provide high quality care to our patients.
  • There is a dedicated group of nurses at the Durham site who developed a proposed schedule for the summer.
  • SBGHC leadership and managers met with the nurses and reviewed the proposed plan in detail.
  • Unfortunately, the proposed plan did not account for unplanned leaves, sick days or vacations, and had no redundancy that is needed for a safe schedule. As a result, it was not a feasible plan for both patient safety and consistency of care or to create a safe work environment for our staff.
  • SBGHC’s scheduling and human resources departments have worked on many different versions of schedules with the staff we have to try and avoid the transition of beds from Durham.
  • Unfortunately, with the staff we have there was no schedule that would enable us to safely provide both emergency services and inpatient care at the Durham site. Moving the inpatient beds to other locations was the safest alternative to provide consistent, accessible care to the community of Durham.

Is SBGHC still using agency nurses at the Durham site to help fill shifts?

  • SBGHC continues to use agency nurses at all four sites, including to support nursing vacancies at the Durham site.​
  • However, the number of nursing vacancies have grown, and agency staff have become difficult to retain, specifically at the Durham site.
  • We need a core foundation of staff that know our hospital, patients and staff to support agency.
  • Although we have a fantastic team of nurses at the Durham site, there are no longer enough nurses to provide this stable foundation for inpatient care and emergency services.
  • We can no longer rely on agency nurses to help keep both inpatient beds and emergency services open.

Can you provide an update on patient transfers from the Durham site? Were patients transferred without being notified?

  • All of our patients’ caregivers were contacted and consulted with in advance of conducting transfers.
  • We have been working in partnership to develop safe transition plans.
  • We do our best to work with patients and their loved ones to ensure they are transferred to a site that will be the most convenient for them, while ensuring they receive the specialized care they need.
  • This process is already in place, and we often move patients between sites to ensure they are getting the right care in the right place.
  • All patient transfers will be completed by June 3rd.

What’s happening to the equipment at the Durham site that was bought with donor funds?

  • We are grateful for our foundations and the important work they do to support our hospitals.
  • All of the equipment that has been purchased with funds from the Durham Hospital Foundation will remain at the Durham site to support care for patients at this site, as per the Foundation’s request.

 

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