Hanover hospital coping with unprecedented emergency visits

The President and CEO of Hanover and District Hospital (HDH) believes their plan to address unprecedented patient volumes should be emulated province-wide.

Dana Howes said the hospital has the second busiest emergency department in the Grey Bruce region as the number of emergency department visitors jumped nearly 20 per cent from the previous year, and 35 per cent from pre-pandemic levels.

Howes said the hospital is working closely with the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health West (OHW). The hospital received funding to address higher patient volumes and support people who don’t have a family doctor.  Howes said they hired a nurse practitioner for the Emergency Department in late August, who treats and discharges patients who are not in need of emergency care.  That allows the physician to work with more acute and medically unstable patients.

Since August, the nurse practitioner cared for 15 per cent of emergency patients.

“It is a model that works extremely well and should be emulated across the province, especially in busy, rural emergency departments. Nurse Practitioners have advanced education and are highly skilled to care independently for patients.” said Howes. “I strongly believe that Nurse Practitioners have a significant role in addressing the capacity issues of the health system in Ontario –especially, in emergency departments. NPs are a resource that we need to be using more.”

However, the funding for the nurse practitioner expires on March 31, 2023. HDH is tracking the success of the project, and working with OHW to see the funding continued. The funding also helped pay for expanded diagnostic imaging coverage, additional Personal Support Workers (PSW), and supports in Patient Registration, Ward Clerk, and Environmental Services coverage.

“HDH is so thankful for the funding that has been received along with the support shown for HDH’s vision of providing a more efficient ED by OHW,” concluded Howes.

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