Chatham-Kent Health Alliance officials hope to see patients move from emergency departments into hospital beds at a faster pace.
Lori Marshall, president and CEO of the CKHA, said over the past year, the average time between the point where a doctor in the emergency room determines a patient is in need of hospital care and the point where that patient gets into a hospital bed is around eight hours.
At its worst, patients had to wait on emergency department stretchers for nearly 12 hours. Officials said that was when winter illness pressures led to limited bed availability.
“Our target is ambitious – five hours,” Marshall said. “But we continue to be a good performer provincially.”
Marshall admitted the five-hour target does not exactly sound efficient.
“Even at five hours, that seems like a long time to be lying in the emergency department and waiting to get a bed,” she said.
The listed wait time does not include the time someone can sit in the waiting room of the emergency department prior to being seen by a physician. Hospital officials say the average wait times in that regard over the past 30 days is 4.5 hours.
Marshall explained the process of getting a patient from the emergency department to a hospital bed first needs a vacant bed in the unit to which the patient is destined to be headed
“That relies on good discharge planning. It relies on a patient who is in hospital being prepared to go home, has a ride and, if home care is needed, is it in place?” she said. “Or if someone needs longer-term care, we can work with our partners in those areas.”
Another factor is how long it takes the cleaning staff to get the bed and surrounding area clean and prepped for the next patient.