Saskatchewan residents spend an average of 22 hours in an emergency room waiting for an inpatient bed, according to the province’s Health Ministry. In Saskatoon, that number rises to 30 hours.
In an effort to improve that, the Saskatchewan Health Authority announced plans on Wednesday to open 36 permanent acute care inpatient beds at Royal University Hospital (RUH) for those admitted through the emergency department.
“We’re really excited to have the ability to care for our emergency department patients in emergency spaces,” RUH emergency physician Janet Ferguson said.
Space for the 26 medicine and 10 general surgery beds will become available once the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital opens its doors in the fall and the maternal, newborn and pediatric services are moved.
“One of the biggest contributors to emergency room overcrowding are the patients admitted to hospital who then have to wait for a long time,” Ferguson said.
“The hope is that some of the wait times will go down, so you’ll move into a space that much quicker.”
Health officials said the new beds will also allow staff to focus on patients arriving in an emergency.
“Will improve both access for patients in the emergency department waiting to see our … physicians and care providers – as well as beginning their acute care stay,” Acute Care Saskatoon executive director Diane Shendruk said.
The initiative will see $2.6 million in funding in 2019-20 — almost $8 million in the coming years — and will be staffed by 56 full-time nursing positions, among other support services.
“With an additional 36 beds we do need to provide a comprehensive model of care,” Shendruk said.
The Royal University Hospital Foundation has also donated $500,000 to help equip the space.
In the interim, a temporary 22-bed admission area will be set up in the current emergency department after it relocates to its new space in fall.