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'Angst' in Durham as hospital ER hours indefinitely cut


The emergency department at the Durham Hospital will have its hours cut in half, starting next month.

“We just don’t have enough staff to keep the Durham hospital emergency room open at night, for the foreseeable future,” says Nancy Shaw, CEO of the South Bruce Grey Health Centre.

Starting on Sunday, March 10, Durham’s Emergency Department will only be open from 7a.m. to 5 p.m., due to a lack of nurses. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for the community, says the local mayor.

“So, it’s a 12 hour, 7 days a week, so there’s some consistency there. That’s the positive. The negative is, if you’re going to have an emergency, do it in the day light hours when you’re in West Grey. I have a struggle with that,” says Municipality of West Grey Mayor, Kevin Eccles.

Durham’s E-R has seen rotating closures because of a lack of nurses for the past four years. Shaw says the situation beyond March 10 looked even worse, so the decision to move to daytime hours only, was made.

“We continue to use agency nurses across all four of our sites. The vacancies were so significant at the Durham site that it was not sustainable to staff the entire department with agency staff. So, we’ll continue to use agency staff to fill vacancies, even on the day shifts,” says Shaw, who oversees hospitals in Durham, Chesley, Walkerton, and Kincardine.

The Chesley Hospital’s Emergency Department, which is also operated by the South Bruce Grey Health Centre, has been operating on a 12 hour a day, 5 days a week, model since December 2022. Mayor Eccles says some residents fear that Durham, is on a similar path, and may never see 24/7 care, again.

“Certainly there is some angst that this is starting down a slippery slope, and we’re not on the right side of the hill. I don’t feel that way. I think this is a matter where this will help get us to where we need to be,” says Eccles.

Shaw says the plan is to resume 24/7 ER services to both Chesley and Durham, as soon as there are enough nurses, to do so.

“We’re waiting for these nurses to graduate from the system, and catch up in healthcare, with more nurses in the system. Ultimately, that’s the only way we can fix this issue, that we continue to experience right now,” says Shaw. Top Stories

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