May 23, 2018 3:22 pm

Head of Canada’s busiest ER says solution to ‘hallway medicine’ isn’t just more beds

WATCH ABOVE: It's called “Code Gridlock” and Brampton Civic Hospital is experiencing it often. Global News anchor Farah Nasser speaks with Dr. Naveed Mohammad about the busiest ER department in the country.

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It’s called “Code Gridlock” and Brampton’s only hospital is in it the majority of the time.

Brampton Civic Hospital, and every other hospital in Ontario, finds unconventional spaces to treat emergency room patients.

“Hallways, cafeterias, meeting rooms,” Dr. Naveed Mohammad, executive vice-president of quality, medical and academic affairs at Brampton Civic Hospital, told Global News.

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“The ER was built to see 200 to 220 patients a day. The first day we opened 10 years ago we saw 218 patients.”

And the growth hasn’t stopped since. The hospital is home to the busiest ER department in the country. Mohammad also said the department receives the most patients by ambulance who have had heart attacks.

Brampton’s population swelled by more than 13 per cent between 2011 and 2016, and ER visits have ballooned.

“There was a day earlier this year we saw 475 patients a day and right now we are averaging 380 to 400 patients a day,” Mohammad said.

READ MORE: Canada has some of the longest wait times to see doctors, specialists, report finds

He noted it’s particularly worse between December and March, which is the height of flu season.

Jamie-Lee Bell is one of the thousands of patients who didn’t get transferred to a room at Brampton Civic Hospital, despite being treated for internal bleeding.

“They put me on a stretcher and that stretcher became my bed for five days,” Bell said.

WATCH: Brampton woman takes up human rights fight after spending 5 days in hospital hallway (April 4, 2017)

After Bell’s case, the province added 37 more inpatient beds to Brampton Civic Hospital.

While more beds always help, Mohammad said the three main party leaders need to be looking at a bigger solution first.

“We need to have our patients be able to access their physicians when they need them,” he said.

READ MORE: Ontario budget to address problem of patients in hospital hallways, finance minister says

“I would really love our system to be as such that when a patient or their child gets ill at home, they can pick up the phone and see someone at 10 o’clock at night or go see someone at 2 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. I think we need to build a system community first.”

However, Bell said that wouldn’t have helped her. But she said anything that lessens the load in the ER is a good thing.

“At this point, it’s a humanitarian issue. I don’t see it as a political issue anymore … we need change,” Bell said.

“People can’t be lying on stretchers that need help. People need to feel safe and like they can go to the hospital and get better.”

Mohammad said hallway medicine shouldn’t be a necessary evil in Ontario.

“If we don’t provide more access, we’re going to be pretty close to a breaking point,” he said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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