Queensway Carleton Hospital seeing staff shortages amid sixth wave of COVID-19

By Perushka Gopalkista

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) says they've managed to keep COVID-19 admissions stable, even since the start of the pandemic. 

But the Clinical Director of Critical Care says the impact of the pandemic's sixth wave has put a strain on the hospital's staff. 

“Well, it's been really tough, actually we have a lot of units that are working short any given day—not having enough staff there,” Lianne Learmonth explained to CityNews. “So, a lot of the units are jumping to the rescue.”

Many staff members have contracted the virus, which forces them to take time off, leaving many departments short-staffed, although the hospital is working on hiring additional employees.

But Learmonth, who has been the QCH's Clinical Director for about five years, credits the hospital staff for pulling together during these uncertain times. She also credits the hospital for ensuring that there is staff safety in place at all times. 

The QCH has managed to keep COVID-19 admissions stable throughout the three years of the pandemic. She explains, this is partly due to the hospital's COVID-19 isolation and protocols for patients and staff.

“We have very good processes in place for isolation and all of the precautions that we have to take,.” 

But other than the health of staff, it's their well-being and safety that has also been affected during the past year.

Since last summer, Learmonth says, the hospital saw an increase in patients being admitted to the Emergency Department. In recent weeks, the hospital issued a statement on social media saying that they had to issue a number of code “whites”, because of violence or harassment directed towards hospital staff, which Learmonth says has been tough for staff to deal with, especially on a regular basis. 

“We're definitely seeing an increase in patients that have mental health challenges and there's not enough resources in the community for them, to support their needs, and so they end up in our emergency department.” she explained, adding that the ED has been seeing more complex patients who may be in need of additional resources. 

Following the increase in harassment towards staff, the hospital's emergency department has added a security guard 24/7, who, she says is trained in de-escalating stressful situations and also provides an “extra set of hands” in what can often be an overwhelming environment.

The hospital's mental health crisis nurses are trained with emergency department nurses to further build awareness on mental health emergencies and create better strategies to cope with different situations. 

But it's the staff's well-being and mental health that continues to be the top priority. Learmonth says that it's important that the public continue to be patient with hospital staff, especially as they continue working throughout the pandemic's sixth wave.

“We really are asking the public and our patients, be patient and kind to our staff,” she says. “They're doing the best they can.” 

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today