Hamilton hospitals down 675 employees amid record-high health-care worker shortages

Hamilton’s two hospital organizations, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH), need 675 new employees to address the current workforce shortage.

In a joint news release, the two organizations warned that service impacts and increasingly high wait times are likely to be an ongoing reality for Hamilton’s hospitals as record-high health-care worker and physician shortages persist across Ontario and Canada, and as the predicted seventh wave of COVID-19 arrives earlier than expected.

According to the hospitals, despite aggressive recruitment efforts, the number of qualified applicants is often not enough to fill vacancies.

“Every day, we’re caring for more patients than our staff have the capacity to care for,” said Sharon Pierson, executive vice president, clinical operations and chief operating officer at HHS.

“Hamilton’s health-care system, like all hospitals in the province, is in a very precarious position. Our ability to push onward is made possible by our people’s valiant commitment to our patients, and for their sake we’re doing all we can do to bring some relief to our highly pressured situation.”

The hospitals says staffing shortages are further exacerbated by a rise in the number of staff and physicians in self-isolation due to COVID, and a much higher number of staff off ill than usual.

They say these pressures, along with high demand for services, are affecting all areas of hospital operations and threatening service continuity, including in community programs, inpatient and outpatient care, mental health, pediatrics, and regional programs.

“Our health-care workers have shouldered an enormous load through the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to do so,” said Melissa Farrell, president of SJHH.

“We are profoundly grateful and recognize a need to align service capacity to staffing levels where possible to support quality patient care and the wellness of our health-care workers. This is a complicated process for everyone and will mean temporary service and procedure reductions as required.”

HHS and SJHH say they continue to place priority on emergent and regional services, and are working closely with regional peers and the province to mitigate access and impact to hospital services, but they say families should expect long wait times. 

They are asking for “patience and understanding” as they work to resolve the ongoing issues.


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