Island Health saw an uptick in snow-related injuries this week, including slip-and-falls. (File photo)

Victoria hospitals saw rise in snow-related injuries, staff shortage from snow

Walk-in clinic closures, motor vehicle incidents saw crowded emergency rooms

Staffing levels at local hospitals are finally back to normal after a strenuous couple of days caused by the weather.

Heavy snowfall this week made it impossible for many people to get to work both at hospitals and walk-in clinics, causing more visits to the emergency room with less medical staff able to attend.

“There were longer than usual waits, but out staff have been working incredibly hard,” said Meribeth Burton, spokesperson for Island Health. “The military base shut down, as did schools and campuses, but we can’t shut down hospitals.”

ALSO READ: Another snow day for Greater Victoria following night of snow fall

Several surgeries had to be postponed because surgeons and patients couldn’t get to the hospital on time. Simultaneously, hospitals saw a spike of snow-related injuries coming in.

“There were a lot of motor vehicle accidents… a lot of slip and falls and fractures,” Burton said. “Even with tobogganing, it’s a lot of fun but some people were doing it for the first time and got injured.”

Burton said Island Health was quick to come up with creative solutions, including an organized rideshare program with the switchboard, but that a lot of help came from the community.

“We heard from a Victoria 4×4 club who started a social media group to volunteer driving staff to the hospital,” Burton said. “It just proves that extreme weather brings out the best in people.”

READ MORE: Vancouver Island 4×4 club offers free rides to hospital staff

Staff members were creative in getting to work, including a nurse who cross-country skied her way into the Victoria General Hospital, and other staff members who opted to stay overnight.

“On Monday we had several staff monitoring the weather, so they had a makeshift bed made up and just stayed,” Burton said. “Now that’s dedication to the job.”

Burton said things are starting to settle now that more walk-in clinics are opening and more staff are coming in, but that now it’s time to catch up after a frantic couple of days.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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