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Emergency room wait times in Ontario ballooned in July, data shows

Click to play video: 'Ford says 90% of Ontarians are treated within 8 hours at ERs'
Ford says 90% of Ontarians are treated within 8 hours at ERs
RELATED: When asked what is his message for people currently waiting in Ontario emergency rooms for hours or days, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Wednesday that 90 per cent of people going to the ER are getting treatment "within the health parameters" of eight hours. This comes as ER wait times across the province are increasing and as some ERs and intensive care units are closing – Aug 3, 2022

Average wait times for patients to be admitted from an emergency room to a bed at Ontario hospital have ballooned to the worst level in at least a year.

Data released by Health Quality Ontario (HQO), part of Ontario Health, shows patients waited an average of 20.7 hours to be admitted to the hospital from the emergency room in July.

The target — which was met for just 24 per cent of patients — is eight hours.

Read more: Long ER wait times, high nurse vacancy rates plague several Toronto hospitals

July was plagued across the province by emergency room closures driven by staff shortages — particularly among nurses.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) previously said it was “outraged about the severe nursing and health-care staffing shortages that are plaguing hospitals.”

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Read more: Ontario hospital warns of ‘much longer’ than expected wait times in ER

The new data measures several different wait times at Ontario hospitals. In several areas, the health-care system is meeting its targets.

For example, low-urgency patients, including those vomiting or reporting a sore throat, who were not admitted to hospital waited an average of 3.2 hours in July. The target is four hours.

High-urgency patients, such as those experiencing heart attacks or suffering an overdose, who were not admitted waited 4.7 hours, within the target of eight hours.

The new data also said patients waited an average of 2.1 hours to have their first assessment by a doctor, a figure that has stayed constant since May at its highest for a year.

“This translates to nearly nine out of 10 high-urgency patients finish their emergency visit within target times,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health told Global News.

Read more: ‘Dying on wait-lists’: Could private health-care solve Canada’s ER ‘crisis’?

However, it was patients who needed a bed at an Ontario hospital who waited the longest, with some hospitals reporting average wait times that stretch across days.

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The average wait times to be admitted to the emergency room reported by HQO was derived from hospitals across the province.

While some, like Woodstock General Hospital, saw wait times at or below the target, others kept patients waiting more than six times longer than the eight-hour target.

The average length of stay in Ontario emergency rooms before being admitted to hospital, according to HQO. Screenshot/HQO

West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Hamilton reported an average wait time of 55.4 hours, more than two days, to be admitted to the emergency room in July.

Hawkesbury and District General Hospital had an average wait time of 48.3 hours.

In the Greater Toronto Area, Unity Health Toronto’s St. Joseph’s Hospital had an average wait time to be admitted to hospital from the ER of 37.9 hours.

Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga reported patients waiting an average of 34.8 hours.

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“We know many other provinces across the country are facing the same pressures we’re facing here in Ontario and that more work needs to be done,” the Ministry of Health said.

A spokesperson referenced the province’s health-care plans, including a blueprint to hire new staff as measures being taken to reduce wait times.

“We look forward to continuing to work with all partners, including Ontario Health and the 140 public hospital corporations, the regulatory colleges, and health sector unions, to address any challenges and keep Ontario open.”

Click to play video: 'Canadian hospitals struggling to cope with staff shortages, growing wait times'
Canadian hospitals struggling to cope with staff shortages, growing wait times

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