"One of the key issues for us when we started this review was to focus on B.C. Ambulance Service, and on getting them back onto the street after coming into RIH," he said. As recently as last month, paramedics were forced to cool their heels for hours at the hospital, waiting with their patients until a bed became available in the emergency room.
To address those long waits, IHA implemented a pre-emergency room program. When a patient arrives at the hospital via ambulance, they are loaded into a pre-emergency waiting area where a nurse monitors them until a bed becomes available in the ER. This new system, said Histead, allows the paramedics to get back into their vehicles and onto the streets.
For the month of April we spent about 300 hours at the emergency at Surrey Memorial, said B.J. Chute, spokesman for the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. Paramedics must stay for extended periods at the side of critically ill patients who have arrived at emergency but havent yet been treated or admitted to hospital.
Theres no place for us to take our patients to get the next level of care, he said. Chute said its also bad at Burnaby General and Royal Columbian hospitals, where crews have logged more than 150 hours waiting this month.
Those were the top three in the entire region, he said, adding the numbers are up from February and March was at close to the highest level hes seen.
An "action meeting" was called on the weekend to bring together 70 of the province's emergency health care professionals to come up with ways to relieve B.C.'s crowded hospital wards. Health Minister George Abbott said the funding -- and changes -- will be set immediately.
"We expect that emergency departments will be identifying a lead doctor, a lead nurse as well as a paramedic representative to talk about a lot of these issues about how we can better manage in the short-term the pressures that occasionally exhibit at emergency rooms," he said.
Its a backhanded recognition that there is in fact a crisis across emergency rooms at B.C. hospitals, said NDP health critic David Cubberley, who noted the money came after intense pressure from ER doctors. Last week the minister spent the week denying that there was a crisis that congestion was having an impact on patients health and referring to doctors as alarmist, he said. Suddenly over the weekend he had a conversion of some sort.
Unfortunately the two paramedics they have on shift to work the halls can't watch over everyone so some of the others have to stay. They are looking at hiring quite a few more positions soon though.
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