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WRHA outlines plan to ease ER bottlenecks

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The top executive of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority laid out a five-point plan to unclog emergency rooms in city hospitals in a speech to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Tuesday.

Arlene Wilgosh said hospitals have two years to put the plan into practice and clear up crowded ERs and cut wait times down for most patients.

The five-point plan adopted by the WRHA’s board of governors includes:

  • By 2015, 90 per cent of patients to be admitted through ERS to hospital beds must be treated and moved within eight hours.
  • Ninety per cent of patients who don’t need to be admitted, must be treated and sent on their way within four hours.
  • No patient is to remain in an ER for longer than 24 hours.
  • All ambulances must be on their way within an hour of bringing in a patient.
  • And visits that don’t involve emergencies will be curtailed; no more than 20 per cent of patients on a given shift who show up at an ER are to stay, unless they need emergency medical care.

Wilgosh did not say exactly how hospitals are supposed to achieve the new targets within the time frame she set out, but she did say the key to the plan’s success is coordination among different sectors of the health-care system.

"In order to meet these goals, all our health care providers must work together to better integrate and coordinate care, from the emergency departments to the in- patient units, to the care provided in the community and in our long-term care facilities," she said in a prepared statement just before the speech to the Chamber of Commerce.

ERs are the bottleneck of the health-care system everywhere in Canada. In Manitoba, governments have been elected on promises to cut out "hallway medicine."

Hospital ERs are typically crowded and it’s not unusual for patients to lay on stretchers in hallways, while waiting to be admitted to a hospital bed on a ward.

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