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People growing angry over four year long ER closure, Huron mayor says

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Four years ago, the temporarily closed sign went up outside the Clinton Hospital’s emergency room.

“I guess we have a new definition for temporary,” says Central Huron Mayor Jim Ginn.

Ginn says he never expected that Clinton’s ER would still be closed in the overnight hours four years after the temporary closure began due to nursing shortages on Dec. 2, 2019.

“It’s been a long four years, we’ll say that for sure. Really not something that HPHA is happy about either,” says Lynanne Mason, chief nursing executive with the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA).

Mason says finding experienced nurses to work the overnight shift at the Clinton emergency room is something she works on, on a daily basis, as the chief nursing executive with the HPHA, which operates hospitals in Clinton, Seaforth, St. Marys, and Stratford.

The Clinton Hospital Emergency Room started its overnight closure on Dec. 2, 2019. Pictured in Clinton, Ont. on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

She says they’ve added several local nurses to the Clinton hospital in the recent months, thanks to new funding from the province.

“So adding in registered practical nurses that are skilled and have experience, that we can train, to see if that makes a difference. To see if we can attract that skill set and that can get us towards that 24/7 opening,” she says.

But Mason says the Clinton hospital is still short five full-time and four part-time nurses, with retirements and maternity leaves looming.

“People are starting to get frustrated, maybe even angry,” says Ginn.

When Clinton’s ER closed from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., four years ago this Saturday. It was one of the few hospitals in Ontario to do so.

Now, it’s commonplace to see emergency room’s closed. Places like Wingham, Walkerton, Durham, and specifically, Chesley, have seen constant temporary ER closures over the past several years, accelerating this past year.

“I liken it to Russian roulette. Sooner or later, it’s going to catch up with us, and it’s going to cost somebody their life,” fears Ginn.

Despite the doom and gloom, Mason sees signs of hope at Clinton’s ER that it will return to 24/7 service. She just doesn’t know when.

“It is a focus. We are working on it everyday,” she says “So, I do hope we will have some news soon.” 

The Clinton Hospital Emergency Room started its overnight closure on Dec. 2, 2019. Pictured in Clinton, Ont. on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

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