Doctors say health system has ‘collapsed’ as patient surges fuel ER closures
19 July 2022
With surging demand forcing emergency room closures across the country, front-line physicians say more immediate help is needed before things get worse.
Dr. Raghu Venugopal, an emergency room physician in Toronto, says he believes the health system is not collapsing, but rather that it has “already collapsed.”
“Nurses and doctors across Ontario and Canada who are working in emergency departments are greatly dismayed, honestly, by the human situation that patients and families have to face on a daily basis,” he said.
READ MORE: Ontario hospitals warn of more upcoming ER closures through the summer
“The wait times are exceedingly long. Nurses are overwhelmed by the number of orders that they’re being asked to carry out… There is no metric or no nothing that your eyes can’t see as a patient or family member in the ER that says the system has not anything but collapsed as we know it.”
Hospital emergency rooms across the country — from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland and Labrador — have had to temporarily close their doors this summer.
In Alberta, there have been 19 disruptions to emergency and ambulatory care facilities since the beginning of June.
A number of the ER closures have been in smaller, rural hospitals, such as the Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater, B.C., which has experienced over 20 closures this year, says Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell.
On Saturday, the hospital’s emergency room closed again, but this wasn’t announced until the following day, Blackwell told Global News Morning in B.C. Monday.
“That’s obviously a huge concern to citizens that we don’t know that the ER is closed,” he said.
“More concerning is actually I’m hearing now that ambulance crews were unaware and showed up with a patient on the overnight shift and had to… divert to Kamloops. So that kind of communication breakdown is obviously very, very troubling.”
But the the problems aren’t just in rural areas.
On Sunday, Montreal Children’s Hospital was temporarily forced to turn patients away due to overcrowding. In B.C., where four Interior hospitals announced temporary diversions over the weekend, the official advice for those requiring emergency care was to call 911 — and move on to the next closest ER.