New Brunswick

Patients stay in hallways as overcrowding persists at 2 N.B. hospitals

Two New Brunswick hospitals are dealing with overcrowding because there aren't enough beds for patients waiting for long-term care.  

Lack of beds cause patients to be turned away at Georges Dumont and Stella-Maris-de-Kent hospitals

The Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont hospital in Moncton is at around 90 per cent capacity for patients. (Guy LeBlanc/Radio-Canada)

Two New Brunswick hospitals are dealing with overcrowding because there aren't enough beds for patients waiting for long-term care.  

The Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton and the Stella-Maris-de-Kent Hospital in the town of Sainte-Anne-de-Kent, have been limiting admissions for almost a month.

"It's not worse than it was, but it's not better," said  Dr. Martin Robichaud, Vitalité Health Network's medical director for the Beausejour region.

Hospitals over capacity

The two hospitals are only admitting patients who absolutely need to be hospitalized, and are postponing some surgeries.

"Patients that come to the emergency department that do have a real emergency will be taken care of," he said.

"Unfortunately for the other ones, that [aren't] so urgent, they can have a long wait time."

Some of those patients aren't seen at a all by a medical professional.

Robichaud recommends those patients visit a walk-in clinic or speak with their family physician.

Robichaud said the Moncton hospital is at around 90 per cent capacity, while the Stella-Maris-de-Kent hospital is at 155 per cent capacity. 

"Of course, it's taking the place for acute care medicine patients," he said. "That's creating a bit of an issue."

Right now, he said patients at Stella-Maris-de-Kent hospital are on stretchers in the hallways waiting for a bed to open up.

"Some of them are there for quite some days now and it's not a situation we want to be in."

'It's not going to get better'

Robichaud expects overcrowding to be an issue for the foreseeable future until long-term care facilities are built. 

The Moncton hospital is also struggling because of a significant lack of nurses.

"It's not easy because it's an international problem," he said. "We're talking six million vacant positions worldwide and that is expected to grow to 18 million in 2030. So it's not going to get better."

Robichaud said many nurses are retiring, while others have left for jobs in the private sector or outside the province. 

In 2019, the Horizon Health Network and Vitalité Health Network reported a need for an additional 520 registered nurses a year for the next five years.

Although Vitalité is trying to recruit more nurses, he said hospitals across the province are also dealing with a similar shortage. 

"There's not enough nurses coming out from the universities to fill the positions that are currently empty," he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Fraser

Reporter/Editor

Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip? elizabeth.fraser@cbc.ca

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