NGH asking for patience as we face significant capacity pressures

Date issued: (Friday, January 12, 2024)

(Simcoe) –
Norfolk General Hospital (NGH), is currently facing a significant increase in the number of patients seeking care, which has put a strain on our services. Over the past few months, we have consistently operated at or above 100% capacity, leading to longer wait times. This situation is not unique to NGH; several hospitals across the region are also operating at over 100% capacity.

The surge in patients seeking care at NGH is primarily due to a rise in respiratory illness cases arriving at our emergency department. Additionally, we’ve observed that elderly patients over the age of 65 arriving at the emergency department often require hospital admission due to increased illness severity.

To meet the escalating demand for inpatient care, NGH has activated its surge plan, resulting in operations running at approximately 120 percent capacity throughout this week. This surge is not unique to our hospital; it’s an issue widespread across the healthcare sector, demanding concerted efforts to address persistent capacity challenges in our region’s healthcare landscape.

We are actively collaborating with our internal teams and external partners, including government entities, to navigate these challenges effectively. Despite the obstacles, our commitment to finding viable solutions remains steadfast.

Norfolk General Hospital extends its heartfelt gratitude to our dedicated staff and physicians who have demonstrated exceptional dedication in ensuring patient safety amidst these challenging circumstances.

“We are continually amazing by the skill and compassion demonstrated by all of our team members, who consistently prioritize our patients’ needs above all else,” said Kim Mullins, Vice-President Clinical and Chief Nursing Executive at Norfolk General Hospital. “We’re immensely proud of the teamwork and resilience displayed by our entire healthcare community, including our valued partners.”

The Norfolk General Hospital team remains steadfast in its efforts to provide quality care and ensure the well-being of patients and the community.

Exploring Alternative Options

As NGH and the community face a surge in viruses and respiratory illnesses, we encourage everyone to consider alternative options for non-emergency care. By exploring these alternatives, we can help alleviate the strain on our hospital’s resources.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or proceed to your local Emergency Department.

Priority will always be given to trauma and critical care patients. Patients with non-urgent medical issues may experience longer than usual wait-times. Patients who seek care at the emergency department will be triaged and prioritized based on the severity of their conditions.

For health concerns that can wait a day or more, consider visiting your family doctor. Health811 (formerly Health Connect Ontario) offers access to registered nurses 24/7 via phone or web chat. Additionally, authorized pharmacists can prescribe medication for 19 specific conditions.

Other options for non-emergency medical care include the Delhi Community Health Centre (DCHC) Walk-in Clinic, which offers first-come, first-serve medical services on Thursday evenings and Saturdays. Virtual Online Care is another convenient option, providing virtual consultations with Nurse Practitioners or Doctors in Southwestern Ontario. Appointments can be booked at

Taking Preventive Measures

In light of the current situation, it is crucial to take preventive measures to reduce the risk of illness. Here are some recommendations:

  1. Wear a mask: When in crowded indoor spaces, including schools, wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of viruses and respiratory illnesses.
  2. Stay home when sick: If you are feeling unwell, it is important to stay home and avoid exposing others to potential illness.
  3. Practice good hand hygiene: Regularly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can help prevent the transmission of viruses and respiratory illnesses.
  4. Get vaccinated: Ensure you are up to date with all eligible vaccines, including those for COVID-19 and the flu. Vaccination plays a vital role in protecting yourself and the community.

By adopting these preventive measures and exploring alternative healthcare options for non-urgent needs, individuals can contribute to relieving the strain on NGH and other hospitals, ensuring that critical care is available to those who need it the most.

We deeply value your understanding and support! For the safety of our staff and everyone in our care, we urge you not to visit a patient if you’re feeling unwell. Your visit, while well-intentioned, could inadvertently affect our staff and disrupt our system. Your cooperation in this matter is immensely appreciated.

You have our commitment that we are doing everything we can to ensure patients get the care they need.

Thank you for your continued support as we work through these challenging times.