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Hospital warns of more doctor shortages this summer

By Tim Davidson May 14, 2024 | 8:43 AM

A good news, bad new scenario for Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora in terms of health care staffing.

Nurse vacancies have decreased and are expected to improve with the graduation of nurses from various courses this spring.

On the other hand, Ray Racette, CEO and president of the hospital, says they expect the shortage of doctors to continue.

“Truth is this summer, is the worst summer, we face even though the pandemic periods,” Racette told the hospital board recently.

“We very nervous about the summer and we already have a lot of people stretched and we’re pushing hard to get locums, but it’s going to be a very challenging summer.”

Racette adds that until the Ministry of Health approves a new physician compensation package, they expect shortages.

“We’ve become more reliant on external locum support, just to support our local group.  You become really vulnerable when your numbers become so thin that if someone gets sick, or anything like that, we don’t really have the reserve capacity that we can just kick in.”

Racette says they don’t plan any ER closures because they know that will cause a hardship, not just in Kenora, but across the region, if they have to transfer patients to other hospitals in other communities.

He suggests the good news is their nurse vacancies have decreased and they expect an influx this spring as students start graduating from local nursing programs.