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Trend reveals wait times, length of stay in decline

October 23, 2018 - Wait times for emergency and urgent care departments across the Winnipeg health region have been improving since the initiation of the Healing Our Health System transition plan, in April 2017.

Data released today by the WRHA show that while there are monthly fluctuations, there has been an overall downward trend over the longer term, in both the median wait times and maximum monthly median (annual peaks) system-wide across the WRHA since the plan was introduced. Long-term data trends also show the median length of stay (LOS) for admitted patients has declined significantly over the past 18 months.

"We are pleased with the results we have seen when it comes to reduced wait times in our emergency and urgent care departments," said Lori Lamont, interim COO for the WRHA. "We're in the midst of a system-wide transformation, which was necessary to improve patient care and make the system sustainable. While monthly fluctuations are to be expected, an overall trend of improvement is emerging, which provides us reassurance that our plan to deliver better health care, sooner, is producing the results we expected. While the full improvements to patient care will not be realized until this transition is complete, it is clear there is real progress being made."

The data released today show median wait times were at or near the two-hour mark during the three years prior to the Healing Our Health System plan being initiated in April 2017. Since then, the median wait has typically been closer to 1.60 hours, according to the data. In fact, the only time the median reached the two-hour mark since the transition was initiated in April 2017, was last winter, during the most significant flu season since the H1N1 outbreak in 2009/10. Even that peak last winter was significantly lower than seasonal peaks in previous years.

The annual median for LOS has dropped by more than three hours since the spring of 2017. This metric measures the total time admitted patients spend in the emergency department, from the point of registration through testing, treatment and finally admission to an inpatient bed. That mark was nearly 14 hours in 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17, but improved to 11.6 hours in 2017/18, and now sits at 10.5 hours for the current fiscal year, which began April 1, 2018.

Through its Healing Our Health System plan, the WRHA has made efforts to reduce wait times by improving patient flow across the system, including options for convalescent care; expanding the role and function of Central Bed Access; opening a mid-to-low acuity treatment space at HSC ahead of schedule; and standardizing the patient flow tools used by hospitals across the region such as daily action rounds and patient discharge protocols. Much of the preparatory work undertaken in advance of the Healing our Health System changes focused on shortening the length of inpatient stays in hospitals (LOS), which in turn reduces the wait for ED patients being admitted to hospital.

September's wait time numbers are now posted on the WRHA website (http://www.wrha.mb.ca/wait-times/report.php). Longer-term data has been included in a backgrounder accompanying this release.

Download the backgrounder

For more information please contact:

Paul Turenne
204-926-7868
pturenne@wrha.mb.ca