Lake of the Woods District Hospital says they are continuing to operate and serve residents while facing a ‘critical’ staffing shortage in its Emergency Room department.

Hospital leadership says staff are regularly dealing with high volumes of patients while working overtime and giving up vacation time to cover any vacancies. As a result, the hospital is asking residents to recognize staff’s efforts by being understanding, patient and kind when dealing with staff.

The hospital has repeatedly said they’ve faced a critical staffing shortage throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and as recently as April, when multiple staff members were off work due to COVID-19 and the hospital was under a COVID-19 outbreak, which surprisingly, weren’t related issues.

In fact, the hospital says due to a lack of staff, their intensive care unit has had to close 14 times since September of 2021.

The hospital says matters are being made worse by staffing shortages throughout the community in primary care clinics, and the All Nations Health Partners are working hard to attract and retain staff to the Kenora area, as well as using nurses from other agencies.

As well, the hospital notes renovations to its Emergency Room are underway and are expected to continue until 2023. When completed, residents will have access to new waiting rooms, washrooms, a shower room, improved treatment spaces and more.