Horizon implements strategies to improve Emergency Department wait times

(HORIZON) – At Horizon Health Network’s four regional hospitals, wait times for Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) Level 3 patients (patients with urgent medical needs who may need to be admitted) are stabilizing to pre-holiday levels.

As seasonal health pressures brought on by a rise in the transmission of respiratory illness in New Brunswick continue, staff and physicians in our EDs remain extremely busy caring for a high volume of sick patients.

The situation and make-up at each of our emergency departments is different, and therefore the solutions needed for each facility are different. At all sites, staff, physicians, and leadership are working with dedication to quickly implement short- and long-term solutions.

Recent actions to improve wait times and capacity in our hospitals include:

Other Horizon-wide initiatives that are helping are:

“Horizon remains fully committed to doing whatever it takes to improve conditions in our EDs and improving patient flow and patient experience throughout our health care system,” said Margaret Melanson, interim President and CEO. “This is always a busy time of year for our EDs, and our dedicated health care teams are working tirelessly to provide safe and quality care.”

We are also encouraged by initial work on collaborative initiatives with our partners at the departments of Health and Social Development and the New Brunswick Extra-Mural Program that will prioritize moving patients from hospitals to nursing and special care homes and increasing availability of community resources.

The occupancy rate for each of our four regional hospitals continues to be high (average of 106%, above the national benchmark of 85%), and our health care teams and physicians are constantly reviewing admissions and discharges to ensure we have space to care for urgent and emergency cases.

“Overcapacity is not only a New Brunswick issue; it is a system-wide challenge felt across Canada,” said Ms. Melanson. “The problem will not be solved overnight, however, we are committed to improving the care we deliver to our patients and their loved ones.”

Through our overcapacity issues, we are also continuing to prioritize surgical services and maintaining all planned surgeries.

We anticipate that patients with non-urgent medical needs will likely continue to experience longer than normal wait times and should visit sowhywait.ca to explore other options for care, such as a pharmacist, primary health care provider, after-hours clinic, virtual care (such as eVisitNB.ca), Tele-Care 811, or the Emergency Department. This includes patients who are experiencing symptoms of a respiratory infection. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or proceed to your local Emergency Department. Our dedicated teams are working very hard to care for our sickest patients, including those requiring trauma care, critical care, intensive care, and victims of sexual and intimate partner violence, and those experiencing urgent mental health needs and this will remain our priority.

Horizon has a plan to improve health care in New Brunswick. Our plan is focused on retention and recruitment efforts and improving the overall patient experience by addressing patient flow and access to services. Further details about Horizon’s four priority areas are available at HorizonNB.ca. This initiative also supports the Government of New Brunswick’s provincial health plan, Stabilizing Health Care: An Urgent Call to Action.


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