November 29, 2018 1:02 am
Updated: November 29, 2018 2:07 pm

Manitoba ER wait times most improved in Canada, but still one of the worst

WATCH: New numbers released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) show ER wait times in Manitoba have gone down. "We're pleased that we are improving,” said Lori Lamont, Chief Operating Officer of the WRHA.

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Manitoba hospitals still have one of the longest emergency department wait times in the country, but recent changes have already brought improvements, according to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Manitoba was the only province that saw wait times decrease in Canada, however, they are still the second worst in the country.

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“We’re pleased that we are improving,” Lori Lamont, Chief Operating Officer of the WRHA said.

“We clearly recognize that we still have a way to go to continue to improve and to move from the bottom of the country.”

The data comes from a new release by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) for the April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 time period.

READ MORE: New Manitoba ‘health care blueprint’ laid out by the province

Province-wide, there was a 13.7 per cent improvement, from 5.1 hours to 4.4 hours over the 2016/17 fiscal year.

That works out to a 42 minute improvement. About 10 per cent of patients at Winnipeg hospitals waited 4.4 hours or longer to be assessed by a physician after being registered at the ER.

Manitoba had the only wait time improvements in Canada.

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The Canadian average is 3.2 hours, which is the WRHA’s eventual goal.

“Until all of the changes are made, we don’t expect to get to our target, but we do believe the impact of the changes we have made so far have had their intended consequences,” Lamont said.

“What we have seen this year, for the first time, is substantial improvement. We have been amongst or the poorest performing in this area for a number of years and in spite of many improvement efforts within our system we didn’t get the traction that we needed to.”

The data was all collected during phase one of the province’s massive health care overhaul which started in October 2017.

READ MORE: First of many Winnipeg ER changes now in effect

The restructuring saw the Emergency Department at the Victoria General Hospital converted to an urgent care center, and the urgent care centre at Misericordia health centre closed.

The WRHA said the improvements seen this past year are directly related to the drastic health care changes the province has been undertaking.

“We do believe that, yes, because other, smaller initiatives did not result in the level of improvement that we’ve seen in that last year, year and half.”

READ MORE: Lower wait times among highlights for WRHA a year after ER closures

However, the WRHA did admit that the recent changes caused the wait times at one hospital to increase: Seven Oaks.

“We recognize that the changes we are making are disruptive, there’s no question about that,” Lamont said. “Some of that disruption will, and has, caused some short term consequences but what we are looking at is whether we can continue to focus on the improvement efforts.”

Each of Winnipeg’s emergency department’s also saw an increase in wait times year over year.

Emergency department wait times by Winnipeg hospitals.

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Phase two of the healthcare restructuring plan gets underway in the next few weeks, starting with the consolidation of mental heath care beds. It will also include the closure of the emergency room at Concordia Hospital and the conversion of the ER at Seven Oaks to an urgent care facility.

Emergency departments in Winnipeg see an average of 900 patients per day collectively, with 10-15 per cent of those being admitted to hospital.

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

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