ALMONTE – It’s been a while, but emergency department closures returned to the Ottawa Valley as staff closed the Almonte General Hospital’s (AGH) emergency unit overnight.
“The Emergency Department at AGH will close on Saturday, Nov. 25, at 3 p.m. and will re-open at 7 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 26,” Mississippi River Health Alliance communications lead Jane Adams released in a statement yesterday (Nov. 25 West Carleton Online received a half-hour after the closure was set to begin. “This temporary closure is due to a shortage of nursing staff. The rest of the hospital is still open and caring for patients.”
Like many rural hospitals in Ontario and across the country, AGH has had to close the emergency department for short periods due to staffing challenges. Closures at Carleton Place, Almonte and Arnprior were regular occurrences earlier in summer, but West Carleton Online hasn’t reported on one since July 22.
“These decisions are not made lightly and not without every alternative being exhausted,” Adams said.
The emergency department has a very small staff with one physician and two nurses working on each shift. If one of them is sick, there is a big impact as there is not a large pool of people with emergency department training to draw from.
“We know these closures are concerning for our community,” AGH President Mary Wilson Trider said, the same comments released on July 22. “Unfortunately, we are dealing with multiple sick leaves. We are in contact with Ontario Health East Ministry staff to discuss potential solutions. Patient and staff safety is our main priority. The hospital applauds all the staff who have worked countless hours of overtime in their efforts to ensure the best care for our community. They have provided outstanding care throughout the pandemic and continue to work extremely hard.”
The Mississippi River Health Alliance (which includes AGH, Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital, Fairview Manor and the Lanark County Paramedic Service) has provided many collaborative benefits including joint recruitment initiatives and taking advantage of government-funded programs such as the Clinical Externs program which bring nursing students to the hospital for in-depth training.
Anyone requiring immediate medical attention should call 911.
Paramedics will take you to the nearest emergency department for care.
Patients can also call 811 for health advice or to chat with a registered nurse. This provincial Health Connect Ontario program replaced Telehealth Ontario last year. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Patients who are registered can also contact the East Region Virtual Care Clinic at www.virtualcareontario.ca or 1-888-684-1999.
The closest emergency departments are: