Extra beds, more staff coming to Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital in March

One of the new acute care beds at the Royal University Hospital. File / Global News

More hospital beds are opening at Saskatchewan’s busiest hospital to help patients get better care and to address overcrowding.

On March 9th, 36 additional acute care in-patient beds are expected to open at the Royal University Hospital (RUH), adding to the hospital’s 12 adult medicine overflow beds, for a total of 48 beds.

A new unit, previously the hospital’s postpartum unit for recovering new mothers, is meant to accommodate more patients admitted to the emergency room, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

Before, if the hospital had an influx of patients — for example, during flu season — patients would sometimes need to receive medical treatment in hallways.

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For Norma Noesgaard, the unit’s manager, it’s important for patients, nurses, and medical support teams to stay close together.

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“When the patients are spread on every floor and on every unit, you spend a significant amount of your day… just trying to find them,” she said.

“In order to provide optimum care, getting to those patients and speaking to them every day was a challenge.”

The hospital can average 90 to 110 medical patients a day, according to general internist Dr. Anne Pausjenssen. She said physicians like herself would have to walk six kilometers daily to see those patients.

“It was challenging to be on the ward and seeing patients multiple times a day,” she said. “This is a huge step forward.”

Along with new beds, each room now has a shower. Before, if a patient without a shower needed to clean themselves, a nurse would have to put them in a wheelchair or walk them to a shower on the other side of the unit.

“That also takes that nurse away from… the other patients she’s looking for,” Noesgaard said.

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“So she can’t hear call bells, she can’t actually visualize what else is going on, and to me, that’s a real safety thing.”

The initiative will receive almost $8 million annually for 50 extra nurses and other staff, and to operate the unit. The RUH Foundation donated $500,000 for new technology, beds and equipment for the unit.

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