ER wait times increasing; more seniors in acute beds waiting for long-term care

Wait times at Red Deer Regional Hospital’s emergency room have dramatically increased, according to information released Tuesday

Wait times at Red Deer Regional Hospital’s emergency room have dramatically increased, according to information released Tuesday by the Wildrose Official Opposition.

The number of those admitted within the eight-hour wait time benchmark has plummeted to 39 per cent this year, from 43 per cent in 2012 and 61 per cent in 2005. That despite the fact the total for annual emergency room visits has remained unchanged in the past eight years.

“Alberta taxpayers continue to pay more and more for health care and keep getting worse results. Red Deer is a prime example,” said Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth. “Wait times in Red Deer are spiralling out of control despite record levels of health care spending.”

With Alberta Health Services failing to meet its eight-hour target for emergency room admissions, the average length of stay for patients at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre has skyrocketed to 14.5 hours in 2012, an increase of over six hours since 2005.

“This is a sign of a broken health care system that is being held together by the heroic efforts of our front-line health care workers,” said Forsyth.

Wildrose Seniors Critic Kerry Towle, MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lazke, said there will be even less space for patients in need of care in Red Deer after the government’s decision to shut down Michener Centre, which will result in an increase of seniors occupying acute care bed spaces as they wait for access to long-term care beds.

According to Alberta Health Services’ recent quarterly update, there are 83 people in acute care beds waiting for continuing care placement in the Central Zone, an increase of 35 people since 2012.

“If you don’t take care of our seniors and ensure there are enough beds available, it means less space in our hospitals for patients who need care,” Towle said. “Until the government realizes this, corrects course and begins to decentralize decision making, wait times will continue to get worse before they get better.”

The committee working on Urgent Care and a Family Care Centre for Sylvan Lake believes it will relieve pressure being felt at Red Deer’s emergency room. A proposal for what the Sylvan centre would look like was filed with Alberta Health Services by the committee by the deadline date of Oct. 1, Mayor Susan Samson said during the mayoralty debates Oct. 4th.