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WRHA pushing paramedics to offload patients at hospitals within 45 minutes

Ambulances waiting at St. Boniface Hospital.
Ambulances waiting at St. Boniface Hospital. File / Global News

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is launching a new initiative to get patients out of the ambulance and into the hospital faster and to save money.

Right now it’s taking about an hour to transfer care from the paramedics to hospital staff. The new goal is 45 minutes.

READ MORE: Health officials downplay row of ambulances outside Winnipeg hospital

Previously, the goal was 30 minutes but WRHA Chief Operations Officer for Acute Care Sites Krista Williams said that wasn’t always realistic.

“We recognize there’s challenges in achieving that, it’s a very rigorous goal. We felt at the same time the 45 minute new target was a more realistic and achievable target based on what our current average offload times are,” Williams said.

The Manitoba Nurses Union says the move is reckless.

“Nurses are already being required to work record amounts of mandatory of overtime, and emergency rooms are overcrowding due to service consolidation and cutbacks. Asking nurses, physicians and other health care workers to rush through patient care procedures is unacceptable and not conducive to improving health care outcomes,” MNU President Sandi Mowat said in a statement.

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READ MORE: Changes to ambulance protocol in Winnipeg come in to effect Tuesday

The WRHA is billed a penalty for keeping paramedics waiting at the hospitals.

In 2015 the health authority was spending about $95,000 monthly in delay of transfer care fees. In 2017, it was about $61,000 monthly in fees.

“There are challenges absolutely in the transfer of care, however, we have worked on processes within the emergency departments,” Williams said.

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It’s also looking at what health care aids can do we have engaged physicians in this process because they’re also important in this, the other staff in the emergency department, they’re all engaged to support the needs of the patients and the ones coming in through EMS.”

READ MORE: Fentanyl stolen from ambulance parked at Winnipeg hospital

Deputy Chief of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Christian Schmidt explained how paramedics would be able to help with the process.

“Rather than a paramedic caring for one patient, we may pair them with two or three patients and return the other ambulances for service out in the community,” he said.

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“The goal is to get all of our units transfer the care in the hospital in a timely fashion within 45 minutes and get those units back out in the street.”

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The change will be implemented on April 11 and is expected to add 8,000 paramedic hours on the road.

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