Overcapacity at Horizon Hospitals

All of Horizon’s hospitals experience overcapacity, particularly during the winter months with flu season. When our facilities are faced with such a situation, our staff work together to implement various initiatives to ensure patients and clients receive safe and quality care.

Crowded wait rooms in emergency departments

When our hospitals are overcapacity, patients and clients may experience long wait times in our emergency departments. Please be assured patients and clients requiring urgent medical attention are always seen first.

People who present at an emergency department are assessed by a registered nurse who triages patients based on the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS). This is a nationally recognized tool used to assist health care providers in prioritizing the order in which patients need to be seen.

All emergency departments across Horizon use this scale. It is a five-point scale with CTAS Level 1 being a resuscitation and CTAS Level 5 being a non-urgent visit. Patients with non-urgent care needs (Level 5) who are waiting for their names to be called may not realize that patients requiring resuscitation or emergency care (Levels 1 and 2) are coming in via ambulance.

Patients and clients are reminded to consult their family physician, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, Tele-Care 811 or walk-in clinic for non-urgent medical needs.

For more information, visit SoWhyWait.ca.

Longer wait times to find a bed

For patients and clients who are seen in the ED and need to be admitted into one of our facilities, it may take us some time to find a bed.

Horizon staff meet daily to discuss admissions and discharges, and work to find solutions to find appropriate space for all our patients. Horizon’s health care teams may consider placing a patient in another Horizon facility if necessary.

Cancelled surgeries

There is often a shortage of beds due to overcapacity issues within our hospitals. This means elective surgical procedures may be cancelled if there are no beds available for post-operative/recovery care.

We understand this is difficult for patients and their families who have made arrangements to accommodate their surgeries.

We do everything within our control to ensure surgeries scheduled in advance are not cancelled. When they are, we work with the patient and the operating room (OR) team to find an alternate date as soon as possible.

Emergency surgeries will always be a priority.

Our commitment to finding solutions

We have embarked on Horizon-wide improvement project to reduce wait times in our emergency departments. We recognize the importance of this issue and are committed to finding solutions.

Approximately 26 per cent of hospital beds (or 1 in 4 beds) are occupied by patients who are waiting for placement in a community setting such as a nursing home and other forms of community care. We continue to collaborate with our key partners to find solutions on how to care for these patients. Patient assessments and the management of placements and wait times will be transitioning to Regional Health Authorities in the next year to improve the processes for patients and their families.

Horizon is also working to expand community care so patients have better access to the services they need, stay in their own homes longer, and possibly bypass the hospital system altogether.

Overcapacity is not only a New Brunswick issue; it is felt across Canada and is something that needs to be addressed. The problem will not be solved overnight, especially as our population continues to age. However, we are committed to improving the care we deliver to our patients, clients and their families.

For more information:

We encourage patients, clients, family members, and loved ones who have concerns about their level of care, support or assistance to contact our Patient Representative Services either by calling 1-844-225-0220online, or in person.

For media inquiries including requests for interviews and overcapacity statistics by facility, please contact the Senior Communications Advisor – Media, Media@HorizonNB.ca or 1-877-499-1899.