HHHS responds to community concerns about emergency department status

The following is a press release from Haliburton Highlands Health Services issued at 10:30 a.m. on April 29.

In response to concerns heard through the community, Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) shared today that no decision has been made about which emergency department might need to close or reduce services as a result of staffing shortages. As well, no target date has been set for an emergency department closure or service reduction.

Since first announcing the impact of staffing shortages on HHHS in November 2021, the organization has been hard at work to keep both emergency departments open, while exploring options and alternatives.

This includes:
• Accessing provincial programs to fund recruitment of internationally-educated nurses and
nursing students, and working with Ontario Health to identify other recruitment strategies
• Engaging in virtual career fairs to attract nursing students and new graduates
• Enhancing the organization’s social media presence
• Hiring a dedicated recruiter to work on other recruitment activities
• Meeting with local municipal leaders to identify possible collaborations and ways to support
recruitment and current staff/physician retention.
• Collaborating with the Haliburton County Physician Recruitment Coordinator
• Focusing on retention by supporting education opportunities for current staff, expanding scopes of practice, upgrading and expanding technology, engaging with staff to improve practices, creating a professional practice leader/educator role to support the onboarding of new staff and professional development of our current team, and supporting the work of the staff wellness committee and their efforts to address stress, burnout, and well-being.

“The fact that both emergency departments have remained open so far is a testament to the incredible dedication and commitment shown by our local teams, as well as the staffing support we have received from agency nursing staff and HealthForce Ontario Emergency Department Locum Program physicians” said Carolyn Plummer, president and CEO of HHHS. “Though this is a very challenging situation to manage, HHHS will remain focused on our mandate of delivering essential, high-quality health services to the residents, cottagers, and visitors of Haliburton County and the surrounding area.”

HHHS will continue to communicate with the community directly about the staffing situation in the
Emergency Departments.