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North Hastings Hospital survived busy season, but staffing challenges remain

Summer is over – but the hard work to keep Bancroft’s hospital fully staffed is not. 

The head of Quinte Health Care (QHC), the organization that oversees North Hastings Hospital, says her organization is working on several long-term solutions to keep services running smoothly.

Officials say summers in Bancroft are tough as it brings a larger number of patients due to the population spike from cottagers. Yet, the number of available doctors and nurses are limited, especially with many baby boomers retiring.  

President Stacey Daub said QHC must be part of a province-wide discussion to find solutions and encourage a new generation of health care workers. 

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“Being a family doctor is something that policy makers and hospitals are going to have to think about it,” she says. “We have to make it an easier, more fulfilling job for them. The pandemic accelerated these foundational issues but I think they’ve created a platform for us to think creatively and differently.”

Daub adds that a new partnership QHC has with Loyalist College is allowing more nurses to be trained locally; a move she believes will ease the labour crunch. 

Although Bancroft’s hospital is no longer in the busiest part of its season, Daub says she’s still mindful about the stress her staff may feel. She and other officials are  watching things carefully to ensure services aren’t overwhelmed. 

Several hospitals in rural Ontario had to close emergency rooms over the last few months due to staff shortages, but Bancroft stayed open; a remarkable feat, Daub says, considering the hospital sees a dramatic increase in patients during cottage season.

Although winter’s coming, she says the hospital’s message remains the same; people should consider if the hospital is their best option for the health care they require, before coming in.

“There are increasingly other types of services,” she says. “Pharmacists are a great source of support for people. There are tele-medicine lines that can support people. If you need to go to the hospital, you absolutely should go. But there are other things we need people to think long and hard about.”

Daub also asks the public to be courteous and thankful of staff, who’ve been working under immense pressure since the start of the pandemic. 

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