At their September meeting, the Quinte Health Board of Directors took a moment to highlight the efforts of our team at North Hastings Hospital (NHH). There have been other hospitals in Ontario, particularly small hospitals in rural areas, that had to close their Emergency Departments at times this summer because they could not staff the department. In fact, The Toronto Star recently reported that since July 2nd, Ontario hospitals have had to temporarily close their emergency departments 86 times due to staffing shortages.
These unprecedented closures are incredibly concerning for our provincial health care system. While there were certainly times this summer that we felt the pressure, the North Hastings team was nothing short of heroic as they strived to ensure residents of the area, and the many seasonal visitors, had access to 24 x 7 Emergency Department services.
Tammy Davis, North Hastings Hospital Lead and Manager of Patient Services, expressed her gratitude for the extraordinary efforts of the physician group. She said, “The North Hastings physician group as a whole has been the reason that we had and continue to have 24/7 coverage of Emergency Medicine and other essential services in our community. In spite of COVID, and the loss of a local physician who worked in the ER and had a large family practice, the local North Hastings physician group worked together to take on additional patients, pick up extra hospitalist and ER shifts, and take on additional community patient care services such as providing physician leadership, and supporting the COVID Assessment Clinic, the Community Vaccine Clinic and the Hospice.”
Tammy went on to say that she is incredibly proud of the physician group for the quality of care they provide to the complex patient cases they see at North Hastings Hospital. She also recognized the partnership that the hospital has with the Bancroft Community Family Health Team, in particular Executive Director Sandra McGrath. Tammy said, without Sandra’s leadership and support we would not have accomplished great things for our community, such as better utilization of Hospice beds, which has provided relief for the hospital’s bed pressures.
Kim Bishop is the Chair of the North Hastings Fund Development Committee and Vice Chair of the Bancroft Family Health Team Board of Directors. Kim recognizes how fortunate the community is to have such dedicated physicians who are committed to the health of the community. “We know how exhausted you are and how many times your families sacrificed plans so you could help provide care to patients that needed you. We know how many times you stepped up for your community. On behalf of the community, we are grateful for all of you.”
Dr. Colin MacPherson, Quinte Health’s Chief of Staff, echoed Tammy’s and Kim’s sentiments, stating, “Our North Hastings physicians exemplify the best of rural medicine. This is a highly collegial group who are dedicated to their community and to each other. They have consistently stepped up on no notice to keep our emergency department and other essential services open and available to their community. They really work to each other’s strengths to provide the best care possible as a group. They prove that we are ‘Stronger together’. In their teamwork and their dedication, they are a model and inspiration to me and many others.”
The Board of Directors acknowledged the remarkable team of staff and physicians at North Hastings Hospital, and all four Quinte Health hospitals, for their continued efforts during this extremely challenging time of unprecedented demand for care, and a province-wide staffing crisis.