Lack of staff closes urgent care clinic in Hamilton on Christmas, New Year’s

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Published December 19, 2023 at 1:13 pm

The struggle to keep adequate staff in healthcare in Ontario seen over the last year continues to result in clinic closures. In Hamilton, this means an important urgent care clinic has to close its doors for the holidays.

The West End Urgent Care Centre at 690 Main St. serves the city every day from noon to 7 p.m. as a hub for various outpatient services. No appointment is necessary and the clinic cares for patients of all ages. In it emergency room doctors address minor broken bones, respiratory illnesses, and minor infections for people who don’t have a family doctor, sparing them a trip to the ER.

On Dec. 18, Hamilton Health Sciences announced the clinic would have to close on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 due to “health human resource shortages.”

“We recognize the impact that such difficult decisions may have on our patients and their families. We thank everyone for their patience and understanding,” HHS wrote. “We sincerely appreciate the work of all our staff and physicians to support patients and their families at this very trying time.”

The move comes as HHS reports increasing strain in their hospitals, driven primarily by an influx of respiratory illnesses like COVID, the flu and RSV. On Dec 14, HHS announced their four hospitals were all between 96 and 126 per cent capacity.

At the time there are 100 admitted COVID-19 patients, seven of whom are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). This is a significant jump from the previous update which reported 80 COVID-19 patients.

Children are a major source of this spike. Previously McMaster Children’s Hospital reported and average 125 patients a day in September but that’s increased 31 per cent to 164 a day in December. At its busiest, the McMaster Children’s Hospital saw 184 patients in one day.

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