Hospital capacity issues putting a strain on Windsor-Essex healthcare

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Health officials across Windsor-Essex are warning the public that hospital and healthcare services are being stretch to the limit due to capacity issues.

They say patients should expect wait times and treatment for anything other than emergencies will be much longer than usual.

Windsor Regional Hospital, Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare and Erie Shore Healthcare, along with Essex-Windsor EMS and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit say there's been a recent surge in both COVID-19 patients and other respiratory ailments.

They are asking patients who do not have emergencies to seek care elsewhere, such as family doctors and clinics, to help alleviate the hospitals.

Bruce Krauter, Chief of Essex-Windsor EMS, says they are seeing increased volumes of patient transports, beyond what they've historically seen both through COVID-19 pandemic and pre-pandemic.

"Due to the capacity pressures in the hospitals, we're having difficulty in offloading those patients in the emergency department just because of space. It's not the fault of the hospital or anything like that, it's just pure volume," he says.

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Essex-Windsor Ambulance (photo by AM800's Kimberley Johnson)

Krauter says for life and limb emergencies, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 for an ambulance.

"For those less urgent, non-urgent type of calls, not feeling well, upset stomach or a sore arm, utilize other pieces within the community such as your primary care provider, urgent care centre or clinic, even a pharmacy," he says. "You can talk to them about what type of stuff you can get to deal with your ailment."

Krauter wants everyone to reserve the emergency department strictly for emergencies.

"The capacity in the hospitals, it's at the point where we're struggling to maintain the response. This isn't just a Windsor-Essex issue, it's an issue being felt across the Ontario southwest, if not across the province. It's just another piece of COVID and collateral damage of COVID moving forward," he adds.

As of 4 p.m. Friday, hospital bed capacity at Windsor Regional Hospital was at 108 per cent capacity.