Emergency department waits at Barrie’s RVH are the longest in Simcoe County and far longer than Ontario’s benchmark, a Simcoe County Hospital Alliance presentation report revealed.
At Simcoe County council this morning, Alliance chairperson Guy Chartrand – who works as the president and CEO of Collingwood General and Marine Hospital – outlined how local hospitals need long-term help from county taxpayers.
In his presentation which was designed to encourage county council to repeat its $30-million commitment over the next 10 years, the statistics show RVH having longer waits: the average time from arrival to seeing a physician at RVH is 4.3 hours and that patient would spend 7 hours in the emergency unit.
That compares to Southlake’s initial assessment time of 1.3 hours. Other hospitals in the region fall at or below that benchmark: Stevenson Memorial in Alliston at 2.3 hours, Collingwood General and Marine at 1.9 hours, Georgian Bay General at 2.1 hours and Soldier’s Memorial at 2.5 hours.
Barrie Coun. Arif Khan called the RVH’s gap “a glaring issue.”
“It’s three or four times the wait of the fastest hospital, Southlake. The RVH has an emergency department wait of 4.3 hours. That’s gargantuan. Something’s obviously not right,” he said.
This statistic came during the meeting after county councilors heard the RVH is the slowest hospital in the region to take responsibility for caring for patients arriving by ambulance.
At RVH, patient off-load takes 55 minutes, while the Ontario standard is 30 minutes. At Soldier’s Memorial, it takes 42 and at Southlake, 40 minutes. Hospitals in Collingwood, Midland and Alliston are even faster in taking responsibility for patients arriving by ambulance.
RVH president Janice Skot blamed “alternative level of care” patients. They await a spot in a nursing home or other care facility.
“They’re ready to go, but there’s nowhere for them to go,” said Skot, adding there are 50 to 60 of them filling hospital beds each day.
“It really does slow down the complex patient to be assessed and admitted into our beds. It’s a system issue. Solutions are not easy to find.”
Khan suggested the hospital could offer emergency department walk-in patients a guideline as to their wait to see a doctor, so they could assess their options, including going to a walk-in clinic.
Skot, however, said hospital staff could not, because the situation changes quickly, according to patients’ conditions.
She noted the hospital used the $20 million the county has given the hospital over the past decade for capital work, which supported projects including the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre.
“Do I find that number horrific?” she said of the emergency wait time. “Absolutely.”