January 13, 2017
Spike in ER visits, occupied beds at RVH could mean longer wait times
Renfrew Victoria Hospital is reporting a significant spike in patient visits to its Emergency Department, as well as in its hospital bed occupancy rates, just a few weeks into the New Year.
RVH records show, for example, that on January 5, 2017, the Emergency Department had 75 patient visits compared to 48 on the same day in 2016. And, according to Chris Ferguson, Vice-President of Patient Care Services, “in-patient bed occupancy rates have been above 100% for the past month.”
Ferguson says a variety of factors could be causing this surge in patient volumes, including the flu and cold season, the Renfrew area’s aging community, as well as patients awaiting transfers to other facilities.
“Although RVH makes every effort to see patients promptly,” Ferguson says that “surges in volume may mean longer wait times both in the Emergency Department and for admission to the hospital. Patient safety, however, is always our priority at RVH,” Ferguson adds.
Higher patient volumes are common at hospitals across the province, according to a Jan. 10 letter from the Ontario Hospital Association to Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. According to the OHA, “In recent months, ED wait times have been the longest on record since Ontario started measuring wait times nine years ago.” Wait times for admission to hospital from the ED also “increased 13 percent from this time last year,” according to the OHA.
To reduce wait times and to avoid unnecessary visits to RVH’s Emergency Department, hospital staff offers the following advice to the public:
RVH also advises all patients who are going to the Emergency Department to ensure that their medical information is up to date, and to take a list of all their medications, as well as any other important information such as allergies.
For patients who are being admitted to the hospital, RVH staff advises that families get involved early to plan a safe and timely discharge. On the day of discharge, patients should be picked up before 10 a.m. in order to give the next patient access to the hospital bed. If a patient cannot return home after an acute admission, families need to plan for alternative placements. Hospital staff is available to assist families in these decisions.
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