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Calgarians waiting longer in hospital emergency rooms: AHS data

Click to play video: 'Edmonton doctor says ER patients leaving due to long wait times' Edmonton doctor says ER patients leaving due to long wait times
Wait times have been an issue for many years at hospitals across Alberta, and now Edmonton emergency department physician Dr. Raj Sherman said some patients are giving up and leaving without receiving care. Dan Grummett reports. – Apr 20, 2022

It’s taking longer for Calgarians to be admitted and discharged from emergency departments across the city, according to data from Alberta Health Services.

Recent data published by the AHS shows wait times at Calgary’s emergency departments have progressively worsened over the past two years. The data focuses on the total length of stay for patients in the emergency department and receiving treatment until they are admitted as an inpatient or discharged.

The data may also be reflective of the overall health system, the AHS said in its report.

Graphs showing the total length of stay for patients in the emergency department and receiving treatment before being discharged or admitted as an inpatient. Graph by Alberta Health Services.

Read more: Stollery Children’s Hospital ER seeing ‘unprecedented’ wait times, surge in patients: Edmonton doctor

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“AHS is experiencing significant pressure on our health-care system, particularly our emergency departments and EMS, due to high volumes of seriously ill patients and the impact of COVID-19.

“Emergency departments are also seeing an increase in patients with influenza-like symptoms and in patients seeking care after deferring it at various times over the past two years,” an AHS spokesperson told 770 CHQR in an email on Wednesday.

AHS noted this isn’t abnormal, adding that the system has always been subject to spikes in demand that cause overcrowding and delays, especially during the winter.

The health authority also said health-care workers are making sure that Albertans receive the best quality of care.

Read more: Data shows Alberta’s emergency medical services in crisis: NDP

“Nurses are monitoring the line-up and waiting room to ensure that no patient is in critical condition. Our goal is to ensure all people are inside and waiting as short as possible,” the AHS spokesperson said.

“We hope to see relief soon as the level of COVID-19 circulating begins to drop. This situation is occurring in jurisdictions across Canada, not just Alberta.”

The Alberta NDP blamed the United Conservative Party for the long wait times, accusing the Alberta government of waging a “war against family doctors.”

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“Doctors are leaving the province at record rates. If the UCP continues its combative relationship with doctors, more will leave,” health critic David Shepherd said during a Wednesday morning news conference.

Shepherd acknowledged that this is a complex issue and that many other provinces dealing with similar situations. However, he added the UCP has made the situation worse and he accused the party of undermining the health care system.

Read more: Calgary parents face long lineups at Alberta Children’s Hospital ER

“It’s difficult to find immediate action that could be taken, but the biggest things I’ve been hearing from health-care workers are the exhaustion and the low morale,” Shepherd said.

“On every front, (Premier) Jason Kenney and the UCP have made this situation worse.”

Steve Buick, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said the emergency departments have been strained at peak times for decades.

The ministry responded by adding capacity across the system, Buick added.

“Emergency departments are under real strain as we’ve acknowledged many times recently, including at Minister Copping’s weekly COVID update yesterday,” Buick said in an email to 770 CHQR.

“Emergency departments are under real strain right now, but the reality is that they’ve been strained at peak times for decades.”

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