Last month, the small town of Thessalon, Ont., became Exhibit A of the doctor shortage plaguing rural Ontario, especially in the north.
More than once, the North Shore Health Network (NSHN) was forced to shut down the emergency department at the Thessalon hospital because there was no doctor or nurse practitioner to work a shift.
Timothy Vine, the CEO of the NSHN, was a recent guest on Village Media's Inside the Village podcast, where he explained the many challenges facing not only his organization, but so many like his across the country.
On May 31 — in the midst of yet another emergency ward shutdown in Thessalon — SooToday reporter Alex Flood spent the day in the community, talking to locals about their concerns.
He goes "Behind the Scenes" to talk about the assignment.
Recently, reporter Alex Flood spent a day in Thessalon, examining the effects of emergency room closures in the area. Small towns like Thessalon are facing a shortage of physicians, which is contributing to the ongoing issue. Despite its small population, Thessalon has had a hospital for a long time, and the residents have grown accustomed to having access to emergency care. However, the physician shortage is impacting not only small hospitals but also larger medical centers in the province, causing significant concerns for the residents who rely on these services.
Thessalon has experienced multiple emergency department closures in a short period of time, creating a sense of uncertainty and worry among the residents. In some instances, the closures lasted for 36 hours or more, leaving the community without emergency medical services. The closures have been disruptive to the lives of the residents who depend on the emergency room for their healthcare needs. The situation in Thessalon is emblematic of the challenges faced by small towns where a small hospital and staff are vulnerable to disruptions when even one or two physicians are unavailable.
The impact of these closures extends beyond Thessalon itself. Surrounding communities like Bruce Mines, Desbarats, and even places with their own hospitals, like Blind River, are also affected. Some individuals prefer seeking care in Thessalon, and the closures have disrupted their healthcare routines. The closure of the emergency room has created grave concerns among the residents, who feel the effects personally.