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Yesterday the Ontario government unveiled its new Emergency Room (ER) Wait Times strategy. The strategy includes a new public reporting website which captures ER Wait Times across the province. The website shows the total time spent in the ER at the provincial, LHIN and hospital level. The data, reporting on October 2008, provides information on the maximum amount of time patients that 9 out of 10 patients (90th percentile) spend in an ER waiting for care or admission to a hospital bed (commonly referred to as ER Length of Stay).
Compared to our baseline of April 2008, we have shown progress and improvement in both of our ER's. Everyone should be pleased with the work that has been accomplished through the ED/GIM Team, through bed redistribution and through our escalation protocol. However we also recognize that the improvement made in our ER performance has been achieved at a cost- especially for patients who rely on our scheduled care programs. We know that surgeries have been delayed and cancelled and that all our programs have substantially changed their admission criteria and processes to help us deal with this provincial imperative.
Our ER wait times are not yet where we want them to be; however, we have certainly made progress over several years in improving our ER results. Front-line providers have shown creativity and diligence in devising new ways to improve our work – and we are beginning to see measurable results. We are very mindful that we need to balance the need to improve our ER wait times with our commitments to scheduled patient care and the provincial programs that make UHN a special provider. Getting that balance right is extremely important and we will observe that balance carefully and frequently.
I encourage you to take a look at the new ED Wait Time reporting site. It can be found at www.ontariowaittimes.com.