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Kingston’s Hotel Dieu Hospital reducing weekend hours at Urgent Care Centre due to doctor shortage

A shortage of emergency physicians is forcing the Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston, Ont. to reduce the hours of operation in its Urgent Care Centre on weekends.

The Kingston Health Sciences Centre has announced that starting Aug. 26, the Urgent Care Centre’s hours will be reduced on Saturdays and Sundays to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Facing a shortage of Emergency Medicine physicians, the decision to reduce weekend hours at the (Urgent Care Centre) was made in order to ensure adequate physician staffing at the Emergency Department (ED), located at the Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site,” the Kingston Health Sciences Centre said in a statement.

The Urgent Care Centre will continue to operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday.

The hospital notes the Urgent Care Centre caps the daily number of patients that can be seen, based on the number of patients, physician and nurse staffing levels, wait times and the complexity of patients receiving care.

“Despite our recruitment efforts, we continue to be significantly short-staffed and our doctors and nurses are stretched thin,” Dr. David Messenger, Head of the Department of Emergency Medicine,” said in a statement.

“We need to take this action to preserve access to safe, timely and high-quality emergency care for patients with serious illnesses and injuries from across our region.”

The Kingston Health Sciences Centre says its emergency physician staffing has decreased over the last six months, “resulting in the reduction of weekend hours at UCC.”

“This is due to an inability to fill all the shifts required to maintain current operating hours at the UCC, while also filling all shifts necessary to provide care for the high volume of patients at the ED, which serves as southeastern Ontario’s major referral centre for trauma, stroke, cardiology, subspecialized surgery, and mental health and addiction care.”

The emergency department at the Kingston General Hospital will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

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