He says there are very high volumes in the ER.
“They don’t need people coming down for reasons that were entirely avoidable…It’s not fair for people who are down there for unavoidable reasons…There are a lot more really sick people than we used to see in previous years so we just don’t have room for people that could’ve avoided the visit and it’s really tough for our staff to feel compassionate for somebody whose behaviour was entirely reckless and irresponsible…When we already have a dozen ambulances at KGH, there’s no ambulance in the community...to pick up the next heart attack,” says Pichora.
He adds the KGH is a regional hospital with people being flown in for tertiary care from across Ontario. The KHSC has put plans in place for Homecoming Weekend including opening additional care areas and bringing in extra nurses, doctors, registration staff, security and housekeeping.
“Three and four years ago, the big worry then is do we have enough space?…We were quite concerned then about the cost of doing this because it’s very expensive and taxpayers are paying. This year we’re not quite so concerned about the cost…I’m not sure those staff are there to come in on an extra shift and volunteer because we're short staffed and we've had a lot of turnover. People need their weekend off. If they're not scheduled to be here, I would rather they have their weekend off,” says Pichora.
He says it’s going to take a community effort to change the behaviour and the culture.
“People can have fun without what we’re seeing now,” says Pichora.
The KHSC said in a release to expect longer wait times in the ER this weekend for anything other than an urgent, life-threatening or critical condition. They say for less urgent needs to consider alternate care options through Right Place, Right Care.
Listen to the full CFRC interview with Dr. David Pichora below: