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ACCESS: Reducing Wait Times 

Improving Access to Emergency Care   
Published on Connect Magazine, Fall 2012
Eastern Health’s Regional Emergency Program has been hard at work developing initiatives and solutions to improve access to emergency services and reduce wait times in emergency departments.
Improving Access to Emergency Care
Long wait times in emergency departments have been a reality in hospitals across Canada, and Eastern Health has not been immune. To make progress in reducing these times, the emergency program is taking a hard look at the three Rs: research, resources and renovations.


To create solutions, it is essential to first have a strong grasp on the issues. In 2009, Eastern Health commissioned Siemens, an external consulting firm, to conduct a Patient Flow Study. This study presented Emergency Services with recommendations designed to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Teams were established to review the recommendations and a Regional Emergency Quality Council was set up to review practices and monitor progress.

“The Council is devoted to making improvements in EDs across the region that are also in alignment with our new strategic plan for 2011 to 2014,” says Gail Downing, Regional Director of Emergency and Paramedicine. “From here, we have developed quality indicators that measure processes and patient outcomes. Results of indicator measurement will lead to further identification of areas for improvement which will further improve wait times and patient care.”

Emergency’s quality indicators include: improving time to diagnostic tests, standardizing medical treatment protocols, improving access to materials and supplies and the development of hospital-wide procedures to assist the department with an excess demand for service.

By the 2011-12 fiscal year, 90 per cent of approved recommendations made from the patient flow study were completed or in various stages of progress! 

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Updated Sep 25, 2012