Up to 600 New Brunswick health care workers are unable to work because they are infected with COVID-19, with absences closing some emergency departments and suspending services.
Horizon Health Network reported 250 employees absent after testing positive for the virus late last week, with 23 units at seven facilities facing an outbreak situation.
On Friday, Vitalité Health Network recorded 252 staff absences due to COVID-19, an increase of 41% over an eight-day period.
As COVID-19 measures have been lifted across the province March 14the two health authorities remained at a “red level”, with all visitors to the establishments being checked and masked.
STAFF SHORTAGE, FACILITY IMPACTS
Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville temporarily suspended labor and delivery services on Wednesday due to the diversion of staff to address COVID-19-related absenteeism on other units. These services were not to resume until Monday morning.
The Queens North Community Health Center in Minto was closed on Friday due to a shortage of available staff.
The emergency department at Sussex Health Center was temporarily closed last weekend during evening and overnight hours because there were not enough nurses available.
People were invited to “limit their visits” from Saturday evening to Sunday morning at the Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Joseph in Saint-Quentin except in an emergency, due to a lack of medical personnel in the building.
New Brunswick paramedics say staffing shortages at hospitals have led to long ambulance offloads delays.
THE RETURN OF NON-VACCINATED HEALTH PERSONNEL
The provincial government said unvaccinated health workers would be required to follow mitigation measures upon their return, based on advice from public health.
Green Party leader David Coon said the move “was a sign of panic and desperation”.
“Can you imagine eliminating vaccination requirements for people who work very intimately with the most vulnerable in our society, in our hospitals, in our nursing homes? It should go the other way to ensure that everyone has their third dose as a requirement,” Coon said. “But here’s where we are.”