Winnipeg hospital wait times down since implementing changes: WRHA

Krista Williams responds to questions after the WRHA announced it was reducing hospital transfer times for paramedics, effective April 11. Amber McGuckin / Global News

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said it’s been successful in reducing wait times at local hospitals since implementing a variety of changes last October.

A preliminary update on the year end wait times for 2017/2018 showed a 16 per cent improvement since consolidation efforts began six months ago.

“We implemented big changes with consolidation in Phase I in October, and so we’re very pleased with the work that our staff has done to improve those wait times during that time of change,” Krista Williams, chief health operations officer of acute care, said.

Across all hospitals in the region, the median wait time dropped from 1.93 hours in 2016/2017 to 1.62 hours in 2017/2018.

READ MORE: Phase 2 rollout of health care changes in Winnipeg behind schedule

Victoria Hospital’s emergency department showed the greatest improvement, with the median wait decreasing 28.8 per cent from 2.22 hours last year to 1.58 hours this year.

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However, March saw longer waits for all hospitals in the region — the median wait in March was 2.02 hours, versus February’s 1.88 hours, which the WRHA said is the result of a nasty flu season.

“We’ve seen also an increase in the number of ambulances attending our emergency departments of about eight per cent, which is about ten additional patients a day,” Williams added.

She noted hospitals are also admitting nine more patients per day, and said this reinforces the need for more sub-acute treatment units.

Concordia and Seven Oaks hospitals are both set to receive additional sub-acute units as part of Phase II in the WRHA’s ‘Healing Our Health System’ changes.

READ MORE: Winnipeg hospitals performing well despite tricky flu season: WRHA

Williams also noted there has been a significant improvement — a 22 per cent decrease — in the number of patients leaving the emergency department without being seen.

“We have made some really good progress,” Williams said. “This last year, 16 per cent improvement [in wait times] despite all the challenges is good progress, and we believe that we’re going to be better than that — we’re going to make more progress and we’re going to continue to work hard to improving the wait times for our public.”
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“Unprecedented levels” of OT

But the Manitoba Nurses Union says they still have some concerns.

“At St. Boniface, nurses are still working unprecedented levels of mandatory overtime that began after the changes were implemented,” MNU president Sandi Mowat said in a statement.

“It’s misleading to claim that monthly wait time increases since October are due to the flu rather than the implementation of Phase I. It’s time for the WRHA and the provincial government to acknowledge that their changes are not working as planned.”

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