Staffing a struggle but local hospitals keeping up as Omicron spreads in community

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Administrators are managing to cover shifts at the three hospitals in Wellington County, but they are keeping a watchful eye on case numbers in the community and bracing for more challenges ahead.

The challenges on their plate are already considerable.

“We do have a number of staff off either isolating from exposure or with COVID-19 symptoms. At this time, we are monitoring all of our health care services,” stated Angela Stanley in an Jan. 5 email to the Advertiser.

Stanley is president and CEO of Groves Memorial Community Hospital and North Wellington Health Care, which includes Palmerston and District Hospital and Louise Marshall Hospital in Mount Forest.

She said as of Jan. 5, two COVID-19 patients were being treated in hospital and hospital capacity seemed to be in good shape, with 93 per cent occupancy at Groves and Louise Marshall hospitals and 80% at Palmerston.

However, Palmerston hospital was in outbreak from Dec. 7 to Dec. 28 with one inpatient and two staff testing positive for COVID-19 and that caused a ripple effect through the system in terms of staffing.

As well, the hospitals have put a pause on elective surgery at least until Jan. 17, which is allowing staff to be shifted to other areas of the hospital.

“With our recent reduction in non-urgent/emergent surgeries and procedures, we have been able to redeploy staff to help in other areas of our hospitals,” Stanley stated.

“We are focusing our efforts this week on health human resource planning to ensure we have the right mix of staff available to fill-in where needed.”

The hospitals terminated six staff in December for not adhering to the mandatory vaccination policy, and while Stanley didn’t say specifically whether those positions have been filled, there are vacancies, she said.

“Historically we have always been challenged to fill staff vacancies,” she said.

“We do have a variety of positions available in nursing, clerical, pharmacy, screeners, trades, food services and housekeeping. We encourage anyone interested to look at the career section on our hospital websites: and”

It’s been a long, tough haul for hospital workers and Stanley said she’s grateful to them all for adhering to stringent health policies and adapting to an ever-changing landscape these past two years.

She sent a special shoutout to Palmerston staff.

“We are grateful to all of our staff and physicians for their support and efforts to quickly stop the outbreak,” she said.