Properly utilize City Hospital to alleviate wait times: Broten

NDP Leader Cam Broten is calling on the government to use Saskatoon City Hospital to its full capacity as MD Ambulance reveals that patients arriving at Saskatoon's emergency rooms by ambulance are waiting hours as a result of overcrowding.

City Hospital is the newest hospital in Saskatoon, and is a state-of-the-art facility. City Hospital's emergency room is only open for 11.5 hours each day. This government removed acute care from the hospital in 2008 and converted an entire wing of patient rooms to management and administration offices in 2012.

“To have emergency patients arrive by ambulance only to lay in the ambulance bay or sit in the waiting room – for 20 minutes, an hour, three hours – that’s absolutely unacceptable,” said Broten. “Can you imagine if that was your loved one? Hospital overcrowding needs immediate action, and the misuse of resources needs to change, right away.”

Broten called on the government to restore City Hospital’s emergency room to 24 hours. He also wants City Hospital’s acute care capacity restored, which includes moving the desks out and patient beds back in. City Hospital is also being used for day surgeries, outpatient procedures, and to house seniors waiting for long-term care.

“It just lacks basic common sense to not properly utilize a state-of-the-art facility like City Hospital,” said Broten. “This government's approach to health care is way too focused on high-priced consultants and adding layers of administration and management. That’s hurting patient care, making waits longer and wasting money. This government needs to stop wasting millions on administration, and put that money directly into patient care.”

Earlier this week, a registered nurse with more than 30 years of experience spoke out on routine overcrowding, failing infrastructure and a shortage of supplies at Royal University Hospital – saying that many of the problems are caused by the government’s toxic pet project, the John Black version of Lean. On Thursday, media reported that 61 per cent of the 436 emergency room off-loads last week exceeded the wait time target of 20 minutes, according to Saskatoon Health Region data. Eleven per cent of patients waited more than an hour, and one patient arriving in an ambulance waited nearly six hours while several waited more than three hours.

“These are emergency situations, and situations in which the paramedics have to wait with the patient,” said Broten. “Waits like this for a patient arriving in an ambulance would be unacceptable anywhere in the world – how on earth does the government think this is acceptable here in Saskatchewan?”

In 2013, a coroner's inquest jury recommended that the government increase the hours at City Hospital's emergency room to alleviate growing wait times at other hospitals and to improve patient safety. The recommendation was made after an inquest into a premature death that resulted from an emergency patient waiting too long at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon.

Broten said Saskatoon is not the only city with overcrowded hospitals and unacceptable long waits. Prince Albert Parkland has had overcapacity warnings through the first weeks of 2015, and emergency room wait times in Regina have doubled over just three years, now averaging 4.3 hours, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

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For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus