Chesley Emergency Department to Return to 24-hour Service Beginning June 15th

The Chesley hospital Emergency Department (ED) will be returning to 24-hour service, effective June 15th, 2022.  At its most recent meeting, the South Bruce Grey Health Centre (SBGHC) Board of Directors approved the resumption of 24/7 service at the Chesley ED.

Since reopening the Walkerton ED to 24-hour service, and returning the 8 acute beds to the Chesley inpatient unit on May 8th, the stability of staffing has been monitored closely, and modelling for staffing requirements over the summer months has continued.  This assessment has confirmed that with the continued dedication and support of SBGHC’s staff, the use of agency nurses, casual nurses, externs, and registered mid-wives, a recommendation could be provided to the SBGHC Board to proceed with reopening of 24-hour service.

The reopening plan for both the Walkerton and Chesley EDs does not come without risk, and there is a chance of a future time-limited reduction in service that could come at short notice should the agency nurse pool dry up, and/or the provincial Health Human Resource (HHR) situation deteriorates further.  The risk of further reductions is very real, but SBGHC is proceeding knowing that it is important to our communities to return all of our operations to 24/7 service, even if there is a chance of time-limited reduction in service in the future.

In addition, physician coverage is becoming an ever increasing challenge across not only the four sites of SBGHC, but also across many small and rural EDs in the Province of Ontario.  The dedicated groups of local physicians who cover SBGHC’s four EDs also work in family practice clinics, provide coverage at local long-term care and retirement homes, assist with surgeries, and cover many other clinical responsibilities.  With our local physicians stretched in many directions, and a shrinking supply of locums available to assist in filling vacant ED shifts, it is clear that SBGHC will continue to face challenges ensuring physician coverage of all of our EDs over the summer and into the fall.

“We are very pleased that we can again provide 24/7 service across all four sites of SBGHC, and meet the expectations of the communities we serve for around-the-clock service,” said Michael Barrett, SBGHC President & CEO.  “We will continue to take the necessary steps, and work closely with our nurses and physicians, to ensure that every effort is made to provide the necessary coverage to keep our Emergency Departments open.”

“I am very pleased that we will again be providing 24/7 service to all our communities,” said Bill Heikkila, SBGHC Board Chair. “The same non-negotiables that resulted in the Board’s decision to reduce services in September 2019 and again in December 2021 are still at play.  We will not provide care in a manner that is unsafe, and we will not provide care that further deteriorates our staff.  On behalf of our Board, and our communities, I want to thank our dedicated team of staff and physicians for making the resumption of services across all of our sites possible.”

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