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Hamilton General Hospital.
August 19, 2022

Update on hospital operations at HHS

In light of increasing pressures at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) and across our health system, the following is an update to our community on the status of operations at our hospital.

Our hospital is facing several challenges:

  • Our sites are experiencing extremely high volumes and are continually operating above 100 per cent capacity. While we are working diligently to avoid bed closures, limited options are available for patients to receive care elsewhere in the region as our hospital and long-term care partners face similar challenges. We consistently have more than 200 ALC patients waiting for beds in the community.
  • Pressures at other health organizations across our region are limiting our ability to return patients to their home hospitals after they visit HHS for specialized care. This impacts our ability to admit new patients in to a hospital bed in a timely manner.
  • As of today, there are approximately 100 patients with COVID and five units in outbreak across HHS. The number of staff and physician absences due to COVID-19 infection or exposure remains high – today there are more than 180 staff and physicians self-isolating due to COVID illness or exposure.
  • As a result of capacity challenges, surgical and procedural activity remains at 75 per cent of pre-pandemic volumes. Wait times in our emergency departments remain high. In some cases, we have had to postpone surgeries and appointments due to staffing levels and other factors relating to hospital capacity.

We are doing all we can to preserve patient care:

  • HHS continues to place priority on emergent and regional services. We are working closely with our regional peers and the province to mitigate impact to hospital services, and to ensure we have a coordinated approach to system capacity management.
  • Beginning in early September, an additional 30 beds will open at the Satellite Health Facility, which we co-operate with St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, which will help reduce the burden of ALC on our acute hospitals.
  • We’ve implemented several measures to alleviate staffing challenges, including creating standby clinical teams to address staffing gaps in high need areas and expanding our internationally trained nursing program. We also continue to aggressively recruit new employees. So far this year, HHS has recruited over 500 RNs and RPNs, and we’ve expedited our onboarding processes to get new staff working sooner.

Our teams continue to work with our partners, including government, to find opportunities to ease the pressure on our local system.

As always, we are grateful for and proud of our teams for their ongoing commitment to our patients and communities. They are what make our hospital tick.

As a reminder, there are many healthcare options in our community. Unless you are experiencing a medical emergency, the following resources should be considered before visiting an emergency department:

  1. A family doctor, for health concerns that can wait a day or more.
  2. Health Connect Ontario, to chat with a registered nurse 24/7 via phone or web chat.
  3. An urgent care centre, for health concerns that are not life-threatening but can’t wait for a doctor’s appointment. Both HHS and SJHH operate a UCC in the city.
  4. For more information, visit needadoc.ca.

Masking continues to be mandatory in all Hamilton hospitals and urgent care centres. This is an essential measure to keep hospital staff and physicians safe and to protect the vulnerable populations we serve.