ER wait times fall after tough flu season

KeepHealthCare.ORG – ER wait times fall after tough flu season

Emergency room wait times in Winnipeg fell in April for the first time since the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority launched its hospital consolidation plan in October.

The median wait time for ER patients waiting to see a doctor or health practitioner fell 19% to 1.63 hours in April, down from 2.02 hours in March, according to new data obtained by the Winnipeg Sun.

The 90th percentile wait times – the longest waits for nine out of 10 patients – also fell to 4.38 hours last month from 4.87 hours in March.

“This is the first month that we’ve seen a real positive change and we were expecting this,” said WRHA chief health operations officer Krista Williams. “We’re going in the right direction and I think April is showing that.”

The median wait time is still higher than it was in October when the WRHA closed Misericordia Urgent Care Centre and converted Victoria Hospital’s ER into an urgent care facility. The median wait time that month was 1.35 hours. A severe flu season and an increase in the number of high-acuity patients drove wait time numbers up over the winter months, said Williams.

“We had about four months that were very tough with flu, high acuity, an increase in our ambulances and an increase in the number of people presenting requiring admission,” said Williams. “So that really challenged us over the winter months.”

Still, ER wait times were lower in April than they were the same month last year. And data released by the WRHA last month showed that wait times – including the length of time it takes for ER patients admitted to hospital to get a bed – were down substantially in 2017-18 compared to 2016-17.

One of the key reasons for that is a number of changes in hospitals that have reduced demand on inpatient beds, including more options to move elderly patients out of hospital to alternative care such as specialized home care, as well as the creation of new sub-acute beds at Victoria Hospital.

“We have to look at it from a systems perspective,” said Williams. “It’s not just emergency, it’s all of the staff in the hospital that are really working towards improving that system.”

Williams said the WRHA is still expecting to release details on the second phase of the hospital consolidation plan — which includes closing Concordia Hospital as an acute care facility — by the end of the month.


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