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The hospitals in Montfort, Carleton Place are closing emergency rooms this weekend

Written by Javed Iqbal

Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital and Montfort Hospital in Ottawa say “unprecedented nursing shortages” have forced them to make the difficult decision to temporarily close their emergency rooms this weekend.

Montfort closes overnight on Saturday and Sunday.

Carleton Place Hospital’s ER will close for a full 24 hours from 7 on Saturdays and reopen at 7 on Sundays.

Montfort called the closure “partial and temporary” because it will still accept ambulances, but the last patients will be admitted at 7 p.m., before the hospital closes its doors to the public between 19.30 and 07.30.

Residents seeking care will be asked to travel to the nearest alternative emergency room, according to a news release issued Friday.

The release states that the remainder of hospital operations will continue as normal with continued COVID-19 restrictions in place for visiting patients’ bedsides.

Carleton Place and District Memorial Hospital will close its emergency room for 24 hours starting Saturday. (Google Street View)

Carleton Place & District Hospital will staff the emergency room with a nurse and a doctor for those who arrive unaware of the closure, it said in a news release.

It directs those seeking emergency care to the nearest hospitals in Perth, Arnprior, Almonte and west Ottawa. It says the rest of the hospital is operating as normal.

Ambulances will take people to the nearest open hospital, but also suggest that potential patients speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day by calling Telehealth Ontario.

The Nursing Association says closures are growing

Cathryn Hoy, the president of the Ontario Nurses Association, called the closure of the Carleton Place hospital “shocking.”

“It’s in Ottawa. Yes, they have a big hospital center there, but they have to have all their emergencies open,” she told the CBC’s All in one day.

The association estimated that 25 hospitals were closed over the long weekend due to staff shortages. Hoy says it’s probably closer to 50 across the province now. She also cautioned that not all closures are announced.

“It doesn’t sound like much, but when you add it up, these closures confirm your emergence. These closures mean surgeries can’t happen,” she said.

Reasons for closures

Montfort said it is experiencing the same pressure as hospitals across the province and has felt the strain intensely in the past few weeks.

It attributes the hospital’s staff shortage to fatigue and burnout, COVID-19-related absenteeism and vacations.

“The decision to close the emergency, even for a few hours, is not an easy one to make, but we have to do it to ensure our team are able to provide excellent, safe and compassionate care,” it said in the message.

It goes on to apologize to patients for the inconvenience and thank hospital staff. Montfort declined the CBC’s request for an interview.

It’s not the first Ottawa-area hospital to temporarily close its emergency room in recent weeks. Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria, Ont., closed for two weeks in July and was unable to fully reopen as planned with partial closures continuing into August.

Last month, Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital in Perth, Ont., closed its emergency department for several days after a COVID-19 outbreak caused staff shortages.

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Javed Iqbal

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