SBGHC to gradually reintroducing acute care beds at Chesley Hospital

South Bruce Grey Health Centre (SBGHC) will begin gradually reintroducing acute care beds at the Chesley hospital, as an increasing number of patients designated as Alternate Level of Care (ALC) are being discharged from the Chesley site, creating capacity to admit acute patients.

photo by Foteh Sharipov

Prior to December 27th, 2022, the Chesley site of SBGHC contained eight acute beds and 10 Senior Centre of Care beds, for a total of 18 beds. However, to address nursing staff shortages, the Chesley inpatient unit was converted to an Alternate Level of Care (ALC) unit on December 27th for a temporary but indefinite period. The temporary creation of the ALC unit allowed SBGHC to implement an alternate staffing model which required less Registered Nurses (RNs). Now with the reduction in the number of patients designated as ALC, the Chesley site can begin to return to its previous bed configuration.

Patients designated as ALC no longer require hospital care, and are awaiting placement in the community (i.e. long-term care, group home, home with home care supports). At the end of January 2022, 23 of SBGHC’s 60 beds across all 4 sites were occupied by ALC patients, but could not be discharged to their next destination due to staffing and capacity challenges in other parts of the system. Today, this number has been reduced, and SBGHC has 16 beds with patients designated as ALC.

Beginning March 21st , 2022, 4 acute beds will be reopened at the Chesley site, and 14 beds will remain designated for ALC and Seniors Centre of Care.

The immediate and first priority of SBGHC is to return all clinical services across our 4 sites to full operation. In addition to the gradual return of acute beds to Chesley, SBGHC is also focused on returning the emergency departments (EDs) in both Chesley and Walkerton to 24/7 operation following a reduction in hours at both sites on December 27th due to a shortage of nurses. SBGHC has created an action on nursing recruitment and retention to assist in increasing nursing resources in our 4 sites.

“The gradual reintroduction of acute care beds at the Chesley site is an encouraging step in the right direction as we continue to remain focused on our goal of returning all of our services to full operation as soon as possible,” said SBGHC Board Chair Bill Heikkila. “Work is continuing every day on finding the necessary nursing resources which are required to return both the Walkerton and Chesley emergency departments to 24/7 service.”

“Our team has been working diligently on implementing the strategies outlined in our nursing recruitment and retention action plan, and we are beginning to see more stability within the nursing staff pool for the Chesley site with a number of agency nurses that are now orientated and ready to fill shifts. We recognize the desire of our nurses to care for acute patients, and being able to practice to full scope of practice is an important part of recruiting and retaining these highly skilled nurses,” said Michael Barrett, SBGHC President & CEO. “And the Walkerton and Chesley communities have told us very clearly that they want to see all clinical services in both communities return to full service”.

A progress report for SBGHC’s nursing recruitment and retention action plan has been posted on SBGHC’s website, which includes the following updates on the immediate actions being taken to restore services at SBGHC.

  • 6 agency RNs have been orientated and are currently filling shifts. 3 agency RNs are in the process of being on-boarded.
  • 9 casual RN positions have been posted internally & externally, and 6 positions have been filled.
  • Two Registered Midwives have signed on to stabilize staffing in the Family Birthing Centre, and additional candidates are being explored.
  • 10 nursing student extern positions for RN students have been offered and filled (5 – 4th year, 1 – 3rd year, 3 – 2nd year, 1 – 1 st year).
  • 1 internationally educated nurse extern position has been offered and filled.
  • 3 Full Time single site RN positions with un-mastered lines have been posted (2 in Walkerton, 1 in Chesley). These positions are above and beyond SBGHC’s regular staff complement.
  • A Recruitment Coordinator to support the recruitment of nursing staff has been hired, effective February 22nd .

SBGHC’s nursing recruitment and retention action plan progress report is available here: