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New Brunswick paramedics face significant increase in offload delays

Click to play video: 'Ambulance New Brunswick sounds the alarm over offload delays' Ambulance New Brunswick sounds the alarm over offload delays
Paramedics are spending more time with patients waiting to be admitted to hospital. Ambulance New Brunswick says there have been increases in offload delays across the province – including spikes at large urban hospitals. Nathalie Sturgeon reports – Jul 28, 2021

Ambulance New Brunswick has released data showing an increase in the number of offload hours as the two health authorities in the province work to reform the health-care system.

In April 2021, offload hours totalled 904.5 and they increased to 1004.3 hours in May. The total rose again in June to 1,381.93.

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Offload delays are when a patient has to remain in the care of a paramedic due to a lack of an available bed or lack of nursing supervision. It comes at the backdrop of several hospitals slashing emergency room hours and transition beds to alternative level care beds.

Data shows some hospitals are seeing significant spikes, while others saw some decreases.

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The George L. Dumont Hospital was among the highest in offload delays over the past three months. In April, it was at 148.0, dropping to 56.1 in May and then spiking to 308.7 in June.

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Saint John Regional Hospital started at 91.7 hours in April, jumping to 201.9 in May and slightly in June to 243.1.

Campbellton Regional Hospital remained stable over the last three months, beginning with 73.9 in April, and dropping to 66.3 in May, and dropping further to 61.5 in June.

Fredericton saw a drop at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital with 115.6 hours in April, dropping to 68.6 in May and dropping again to 52.5 in June.

However, Jean-Pierre Savoie, the vice-president for Ambulance New Brunswick, said offload delays continue to challenge the company.

“We know that our healthcare partners are aware of this situation and continue to work towards finding solutions to these challenges,” he said in an email.

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The offload delays are something New Brunswick Union president Susie Proulx-Daigle said they are aware of and are open to working with the government to find a solution.

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Chris Hood, the executive director and registrar with the Paramedic Association of New Brunswick, declined to be interviewed about offload delays, saying the association refused to contribute to a narrative that offload delays were a sole contributor to paramedic burnout.

The data fluctuates, according to Ambulance New Brunswick, and it’s hard to discern specific patterns but the data released paints a striking picture as the province works toward health-care reform.

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