Campbellton hospital closes three departments to alleviate overcrowding
FREDERICTON -- Another hospital is temporarily closing departments because of overcrowding and understaffing.
Vitalite Health Network says the problem at the Campbellton Regional Hospital is so bad, health care in the hospital has been compromised.
It's a hospital that normally has 145 beds, but in recent days, Campbellton Regional has been trying to accommodate almost 200.
Now the hospital has shut down three of its units.
"For the short term, we have to redeploy patients to Bathurst or to Saint-Quentin, to make sure there's continuity of healthcare," said New Brunswick Health Minister Ted Flemming.
Closed units include obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, and outpatients. Ambulances are now being redirected too.
Flemming says half of the beds are being used by elderly patients waiting for a bed in a nursing home.
In a statement from Vitalite Health, the CEO calls the situation "exceptional."
"There is no more room in the hospital and our ability to provide safe and high-quality care is being compromised," said Gilles Lanteigne. "Our staff and physicians are working very hard but we have exhausted all other options to resolve the situation.
We thus have no choice but to take a series of exceptional measures.
This is an extremely urgent situation and we need everyone's collaboration and understanding during this difficult period."
Flemming was asked by reporters if the province saw this coming.
"Well, look, we've been talking about this," Flemming said. "We're saying we're running out of people, we've said this, that there is a storm gathering here, the grey tsunami they call it. People are aging."
Flemming held a meeting with Liberal MLAs from the region. It's an issue he says goes beyond politics.
"He's ready to treat it as an urgent matter and we're pleased with that," said Guy Arseneault, the MLA for Campbellton-Dalhousie.
The three units are now closed until next Friday. Staff will re-evaluate the situation on a daily basis.
Campbellton's mayor tells CTV News the situation is "alarming," and that sending even one patient to another hospital is concerning.
The province's medical society is calling on the government to make more nursing and special care home beds available, arguing New Brunswick's hospitals are routinely over capacity, and it only worsens during flu season.
Flemming says he is aware of these issues.
"I'm going to go back to my office and go to work," he said.
The health network is asking that, at this time, anyone who needs to see a physician in the Campbellton region to go to a walk-in clinic or their family doctor.
Vitalite says it knows this is an inconvenience, but the situation is urgent, and they say drastic measures must be taken to get the number of patients at the hospital to a "more acceptable level."