MANITOULIN—While hospitals in many areas of Canada are experiencing crowding, limited beds and a diminished workforce in emergency departments, the Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) has been able to continue to provide services without similar struggles, so far at its Little Current and Mindemoya sites.
“We were fortunate to secure travel nurses through the summer,” stated Paula Fields, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of MHC, last week. “It comes at a cost to hire them to help out during the summer, but it allows our hard-working staff to be able to take holidays, days off and breaks from work.”
“And our physician group has been able to secure locums to fill-in for the doctors during the summer,” said Ms. Fields. She explained, “the Ministry of Health (MOH) has also come through to pay stipends for the locum sector for the summer. We have coverage of all our emergency department services.”
However, while things are fine at the MHC currently, that could change quickly, said Ms. Fields. “One COVID-19, or an outbreak, and we could have some difficulties.”
“We are working on emergency department closure protocols,” said Ms. Fields. “So far, we have been fortunate. We have an extremely dedicated and committed staff who does whatever it takes to make sure our patients are safe and are provided the best care. That is because this is a rural area, and this is not only their job, but it’s their community and people they are protecting.”
“I have heard of incidents and problems that are occurring at hospitals and emergency departments in places like Newfoundland and Hay River,” said Ms. Fields.
Earlier this month, Ontario Premier Doug Ford called on the federal government to open its wallet and deliver more health-care spending to the provinces. But Ontario’s opposition party puts the blame squarely on the premier, arguing his penny-pinching policies caused the problem in the first place.
“It’s not all about money,” said Ms. Fields. “It is also about building resources. There needs to be more incentive for enrolment in medical and nurse shortages. And a nurse, for instance, can start an education program this September and not be ready until four and a half years of study before they can fill a job position as a nurse). We are doing okay, but that could change quickly.”
Ms. Fields added that the Rogers outages that plagued Ontario did not affect MHC. “We were fine. We were able to operate all our phone systems,” she said noting that, “our services are through Bell.”