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MacKenzie Health and York Region paramedics stage a demonstration of their streamlined patient transfers into the emergency department. (Pauline Chan/CTV News Toronto)

A York Region hospital has taken a number of small steps to get patients from the ambulance to the emergency department faster.

Three years ago, the hospital teamed up with York Region Paramedic services and other hospitals in the region to find ways to reduce the time it takes to offload patients coming to emergency departments by ambulance.

“We want to get those patients off and beginning their journey through the healthcare system as quickly as possible” Dr. David Rauchwenger, Chief of the Emergency Department at MacKenzie Health, said.

Rauchwenger said MacKenzie Health has the third highest volume of emergency cases in the province and more than double that of any other hospital in York region.

Despite that, they’ve managed to trim their patient transfer times, moving them from the ambulance and getting them into the care of emergency department staff in less than 15 minutes on average.

That time is about five to ten minutes faster than any other hospital in York Region, Rauchwenger said.

He said that going digital has made a significant impact.

“That’s helped remove time it would take to write things down or transfer records to a certain place. All is done with computers and that in and of itself has resulted in increased efficiencies.”

In addition, the 2016 pilot project found other ways to standardize and streamline the process.

Bradley Hickman, Superintendent of Paramedic Operations in York Region said that not only does it mean patients get hospital care faster, it also means paramedics are freed up.

“It allows us to get back into the community faster so we can service the next call” he says.

York Region is a growing community, Rauchwenger said, and emergency department volumes have increased 10 per cent over the last year. Some days, paramedics handle more than 400 cases a day.

With higher numbers expected during the upcoming flu season, keeping patients out of hospital halls is their key goal.