Niagara Health reallocating resources to emergency departments, halving hours at urgent care sites

Fort Erie and Port Colborne urgent care centres to switch from remaining open 24 hours a day to operating exclusively from 10:00am to 10:00pm, seven days a week. Photo credit: Google Maps


In the face of “unprecedented challenges relating to health human resources”, Niagara’s regional healthcare provider is set to halve operational hours at its two urgent care centres. 

In a statement on Wednesday, Niagara Health president and CEO Lynn Guerriero said that the provider’s board, on a recommendation from emergency department physician leaders, approved the reduction in hours at its urgent care sites in Fort Erie and Port Colborne “out of a deep responsibility for the people of Niagara”.

“This decision was not easy, and I understand it is unwelcome news for some,” Guerriero said. 

“After looking at all our options, reducing late night and early morning coverage in the Fort Erie and Port Colborne (urgent care centres) was deemed the absolute least disruptive way to address the challenges we are facing”. 

Starting July 5, the two sites will move from operating 24/7 to running exclusively from 10:00am to 10:00pm, seven days a week.

The reallocation of resources, according to Guerriero, will help ensure operational capacity at Niagara Health’s three emergency departments (EDs) in St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, and Welland.

“Our ED physician group have cautioned us about our ability to properly staff the three EDs in the coming months, with projections showing our EDs will be short 274 physician shifts.” 

The changes, per Guerriero, will “ensure (Niagara Health is) able to continue prioritizing emergency needs for residents with serious, and potentially life-threatening conditions and injuries.” 

Niagara Health runs five sites across the region in Fort Erie, Port Colborne, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, and Welland. 

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