St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital Capacity Challenges

Published On: June 28, 2022

(St. Thomas, ON) St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH) is notifying residents in Elgin County of the pressures facing the local healthcare system.

Hospitals across the South West continue to experience human resources shortages, including physicians, and all hospitals are working closely together to minimize potential service impacts and manage wait times. Heading into the summer after a very challenging two years, it is becoming increasingly difficult to staff all programs and services.

Hospitals are very aware that all health care partners are facing challenges. It is our shared responsibility to look to broader system solutions to ensure our programs and services are provided in a manner that reflects the staffing realities we are all collectively facing now and into the future.

“Staffing challenges, inpatient overcapacity and a very busy Emergency Department (ED) is resulting in higher than average wait times for patients visiting the ED,” says Karen Davies, President and CEO. “It poses challenges for those who require immediate, emergent care.”

Over the past few years, many staff and physicians have retired from the health care field with the number of unfilled positions in 2021 increasing 91% from the previous year. In a recent Ontario Hospital Association survey, burnout and stress from caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic were the main reasons cited by staff currently leaving their roles. HHR will be, and is, a critical factor for STEGH and all hospitals across the province. 

When to visit the Emergency Department

Many visits to the ED are not considered emergencies and can be addressed by a primary care physician or at a clinic. There is no hard and fast rule as to when to seek emergency medical services; however, there are some situations where the ED is the appropriate place to go. “We are not discouraging anyone from seeking care,” says Davies. “Please consider if your needs are potentially addressed through other health system supports available to you first, such as your primary care provider’s office, walk-in clinic, or Health Connect Ontario (formerly Telehealth Ontario).”

If your needs are non-urgent, please consider other health system supports, such as your primary care provider’s office, an urgent care centre or Health Connect Ontario.

In emergency situations, STEGH reminds the public to call 911, as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are a key part of the Emergency Response Team who will start immediate care when dispatched and will transport people to the best location for continued care.