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'Significant staffing shortages' leave OSMH patients frustrated

'I have two kids and I’m a single mom. It’s hard for me to be there for eight hours,' says local woman of lengthy wait at emergency department

Patients better bring patience if they need to visit the emergency department at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH).

There are signs posted around the emergency department advising the unit is running at 30 to 40 per cent capacity, while being short several nurses, and to expect longer-than-normal wait times for non-emergent patients.

Nichole Brain, 29, has been to the ER a couple of times over the past two weeks. She has been dealing with some complications related to her pregnancy.

“The staff is great, but you can tell they are overworked,” she said, noting the first time she went to the emergency department at about 10 a.m., the nurses thought she was miscarrying.

“I waited six hours before they even came and checked the baby,” she said.

Brain returned to the hospital Monday at about 3 p.m., as requested by her doctor. She waited more than six-and-a-half hours.

“When I finally got to the back, it was 45 minutes (wait) and then in and out,” she said. “They had two nurses running each side.”

The waiting room was so packed, patients were taking turns sitting down, Brain says.

“I have two kids and I’m a single mom,” she said. “It’s hard for me to be there for eight hours and make sure my kids are taken care of.”

Riley Sova, 25, was in the ER Tuesday night with an infection in his arm. He says he waited almost an hour before even getting through triage.

“I felt really bad for this one guy who had a 10-year-old kid with him,” he said. “He was there for well over four hours.”

Sova says there were signs “everywhere” informing patients the ER was running below capacity, noting wait times would be longer than usual.

“I imagine the staff is pretty tired,” Sova said. “They seemed pretty chill, though; they were really nice.”

However, he says the staff “seemed like they were in a rush,” adding he wasn’t fully satisfied with the level of care he received.

“The doctor looked at my infection and said he definitely didn’t think it was a tick,” he explained. “I was hoping he would pry it open to make sure there was no debris, or something stuck in there.”

Sova says he was looked at quickly, given a prescription, and sent out the door within five minutes of being seen.

Carmine Stumpo, president and CEO of OSMH, says the hospital is aware of the signs posted in the emergency department about wait times being longer than usual, though he noted they are not an official message from the hospital.

“We did experience significant staffing shortages over the weekend across the organization including the emergency department,” he said in a written statement to OrilliaMatters.

“Hospital leaders were in regular communication throughout the weekend to ensure resources were optimally utilized.”

Stumpo says the clinical team did an “excellent job prioritizing the most urgent cases” over the weekend, and he conceded some of the less urgent cases likely waited longer than staff would have liked.

However, no one was turned away for care, he stressed.

“We’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the commitment and teamwork displayed by our staff during these challenging times as well as our community for their continued patience and appreciation of their extraordinary efforts of the Soldiers’ team,” he said.

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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