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Media release

Emergency department wait times see sustained improvement

Strong year-end performance despite a busy flu season and increase in sicker patients

April 17, 2018 - The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) today released preliminary year-end wait times for 2017/18, showing an overall 16 per cent improvement in wait times since the region began implementing consolidation strategies in October 2017.

"Over the past year, we have seen sustained improvement in emergency department (ED) wait times," said Krista Williams, chief health operations officer of acute care for the WRHA. "Our physicians and staff have played vital roles in this early success. Their dedication to improved patient care and access has allowed us to see improvement through the first phase of consolidation despite an increased number of very sick patients in recent months."

Williams noted the median wait time improved to 1.62 hours in 2017/18 from 1.93 hours in 2016/17 and inpatient length of stay improved by 6 per cent over the same period. Emergency departments across the region have seen an increased number of sicker patients in recent months, accompanied by an increased number of patients admitted to hospital.

"A busy flu season and a recent 10 per cent increase in the sickest category of patients seen in our emergency departments (triaged at levels one and two) have affected our most recent wait times," said Williams. "The increased number of admitted patients does highlight the opportunity we have in Phase II of our consolidation plans to use new sub-acute care space for those patients who require admission, but who do not need an acute level of care. This will in turn significantly alleviate pressure on our emergency departments."

There are at least 35 patients currently occupying beds in inpatient units at acute hospitals in Winnipeg (Grace, St. Boniface and HSC) who would be more appropriately cared for in a sub-acute setting, Williams added. The addition of sub-acute units at Concordia and Seven Oaks Hospitals in Phase II will more than triple the current sub-acute care space. The existing 59 beds at Victoria Hospital have been operating at capacity since the region consolidated its focus on sub-acute patients in October 2017.

"Emergency departments and the WRHA Executive Team review system capacity and flow daily to identifying trends and provide support to sites experiencing high volumes. This information continues to be incorporated into the careful, deliberate planning of Phase II of the Healing our Health System plan, of which further details will be announced in the coming weeks."

Important highlights of note across the system include:

For more information contact:

Bronwyn Penner-Holigroski
WRHA Media Relations
Phone: 204-926-7868
Mobile: 204-794-2254
Email: bpennerholigroski@wrha.mb.ca

Amy McGuinness
WRHA Media Relations
Phone: 204-926-7178
Mobile: 204-794-2831
Email: amcguinness@wrha.mb.ca