New Brunswick is just three days away from removing all provincial public health restrictions, such as masks and isolation requirements. However, the province’s health networks will remain within their internal red levels.
This means that nothing will change within the hospital system – masks will still be required and no social visitors will be allowed, only designated support people.
It also allows health authorities to reschedule appointments or surgeries if there is a need to redeploy healthcare workers elsewhere.
“This is being done for the protection of our patients and healthcare workers, as we continue to do everything we can to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in our facilities,” said Horizon Health CEO , John Dornan, in a statement.
“It is important to maintain these measures as additional protection for the health care system, as New Brunswick continues to see a significant number of daily cases and continues to see hundreds of our health care personnel unable to report to work after a positive test. ”
As of Thursday, 528 health care workers from the Vitalité and Horizon health networks have been off work after contracting the virus.
Vitalité’s occupancy rate is 99% across all of its hospitals, while Horizon’s is 93%.
“We were down, a few weeks ago, about 300 health care providers who were in isolation and now it’s almost double,” said Paula Doucet, president of the NB Nurses Union. .
“Anytime we have people out of the system, those who stay have to take on all that extra work.”
Doucet says there are still about 1,000 vacant nursing positions in the province, adding to the pressure. However, she says she has been assured by the health networks that they are actively recruiting this year’s nursing graduates.
Other medical professionals agree that the system needs more time.
“The big problem, which I’ve talked about many times, is the fact that even a single hospital infection can add a lot of extra work to an understaffed group of nurses,” said Dr Mark MacMillan , president of the New Brunswick Medical Society.
“They’re struggling right now, there aren’t enough nurses in the hospital to care for the patients there, and that’s the biggest struggle for us, trying to ‘quote – without quotes’ to get the hospital to reopen to normal levels. It’s going to be very difficult to do.”