Vancouver emergency room cutting hours to relieve pressure on staff

Due to mounting pressures on staff, the emergency department at Vancouver’s UBC Hospital will be scaling back its hours starting Tuesday.

The doors will close at 8 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. every night, the health authority announced in a statement issued Monday.

“Increasing patient arrival volumes, especially at the end of the day, has meant that staff and medical staff at UBC Hospital ED are routinely working well beyond their scheduled shifts into the early hours of the morning to deliver care to those who arrive at the hospital in the late evening,” wrote Dr. Ladan Sadrehashemi, the senior medical director of acute care for Vancouver Coastal Health.

“The uncertainty of not knowing the last shift end time is creating burnout and loss of medical and other staff within the ED healthcare team and is not sustainable.”

VCH described the move as “temporary adjustment” although no end date for the change in hours is specified. Patients requiring urgent care are being advised to go to other hospitals in the city.

“Work is underway to identify interim and long-term options for managing patient volumes at UBC Hospital,” the statement from VCH says.

The announcement is the first of its kind in Vancouver but smaller communities in B.C. have been dealing with closures and reduced hours at emergency rooms for months.

Premier John Horgan has described the province’s health-care system as “teetering” with persistent staff shortages and a dire crisis in family medicine among the most pressing issues. However, he has also said similar issues are being seen across the country and that a fix is impossible without a significant investment from the federal government.

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