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Wait times in Winnipeg emergency rooms improving

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority provided an update regarding the overhaul of the healthcare system on Thursday.

Officials said work is underway to improve wait times for patients going to emergency and urgent care centres.

The WRHA said the median wait time in September 2019 was 2.07 hours. That means 50 per cent of people waited under 2.07 hours and 50 per cent waited more than 2.07 hours. One out of 10 waited more than 5.33 hours. 

WRHA president and CEO Réal Cloutier said the Canadian average wait time is 1.2 hours. 

"We have more work to do. This is not trending in the right way,” he said. 

Krista Williams, the WRHA’s chief nursing and health operations officer, said wait times are complex and there are several reasons why staff can't pull new patients into an ER or urgent care centre. Sometimes people are waiting for services and can't move out of the ER or urgent care, and other times patients could be ready for discharge but the hospital must wait for family to pick them up.

A big focus moving forward will be improving patient flow.

“Consult processes, processes with the ED/urgent care, but also looking at in-patient length of stay and discharging to community resources to support that safe transition," said Williams.

PATIENT LEAVES ER AFTER WAIT ‘TOO LONG’

Ryan Rosteski visited the ER at Health Sciences Centre on Thursday.

He said he waited an hour and staff took his blood pressure, but facing another two-to-three hour wait for detox, he left.

"Too long, too long,” he said.

Rosteski wishes he got to see a doctor.

"Like getting all the tests done and making sure, cause I'm not too sure. You hear about people having traumas when they go through detox but I feel good,” he said.

The WRHA said most of the healthcare overhaul is now complete, and knows with big changes, adjustments will take time. However, with actions underway and the feedback, it's confident it will see wait times improve.

ADRESSING NURSING SHORTAGES

Apart from working on wait times, the WRHA is also tackling nursing shortages.

It said the nursing workforce strategy is focused on improving the recruitment process, removing barriers for candidates, as well as simplifying the application and hiring process.