$data.PageTitle

LEAMINGTON -- There are unintended consequences of a new offload diversion program of Essex-Windsor EMS.

As part of the program, if the emergency room at Windsor Regional Hospital is full – paramedics take patients with less severe injuries to Erie Shores Healthcare.

EMS Chief Bruce Krauter says the offload diversion program is working, as it is reducing the time paramedics spend waiting to offload patients, so they can attend to emergencies.

But Krauter admits it is putting additional strain on resources and the budget at the Leamington hospital.

"Even though they have the infrastructure, the bricks and mortar to accept, they may not have the human resource infrastructure to accept these patients," says Krauter.

Krauter tells CTV News the Leamington hospital ER is seeing an additional five patients each day with the new diversion program.

Erie Shores Healthcare CEO Janice Dawson confirms they are seeing more patients every day.

"Two years ago we were seeing about 12 ambulances a day. Now we're averaging anywhere from about 19 to 22 ambulances a day," says Dawson.

Dawson tells CTV News they have already spent about $1 million in front line resources to support the higher volume of patients.

"We've been running four beds up on the inpatient unit," notes Dawson. "These are four unfunded beds so it's starting to tax our resources."

Dawson adds the average wait time at the Leamington ER has also increased to three to four hours.

She warns that could get worse if they don't receive more funding from the province.

"If we do nothing, Erie Shores Healthcare may not be able to continue the diversion program because they just don't have the funding for staff," adds Krauter.

Health officials warn the wait times could get worse during influenza season.