Two overnight emergency room closures to end

Walkerton and Chesley are getting their emergency rooms back.

The South Bruce Gray Health Center (SBGHC) says it’s planning on returning the Walkerton Hospital emergency room to 24-hour service on May 9. The emergency room at the Chesley Hospital will return to 24-hour service on June 15.

A lack of nurses forced the overnight closure of the emergency room in Walkerton, Ont. on December 27, 2021. The emergency room in Chesley, Ont. has been limited to daytime hours since September 2019.

A stabilizing of nursing staff, with the addition of agency nurses, casual nurses, and student external and registered midwives has allowed for the overnight reopening of the emergency rooms, says SBGHC CEO, Michael Barrett.

“I am very pleased that SBGHC will again be providing 24/7 service to all our communities. We will be closely monitoring the reopening plan to ensure we do it in a safe manner where we can continue to provide high quality care to the patients we serve,” he says.

Barrett adds that the risk of further service reductions is “very real”, but they are choosing to proceed and are aware of the risk. Barrett says their current approach is different than what they undertook in 2019 when the Chesley emergency department had its services reduced, and at the time they indicated they would not reopen if there was any future risk of closing again.

“With the ongoing critical nursing shortage continuing to be felt across the province, we have decided that it is important to our communities to return all of our operations to 24/7 service if we can do it now, even if there is a chance of a time-limited reduction in service in the future,” Barrett says.

The decision to re-open both Walkerton and Chesley’s emergency rooms to 24-hour service was made at a special meeting of the SBGHC board of directors on Monday night.

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