ER wait times: How do SD&G hospitals measure up?

Nick Seebruch
ER wait times: How do SD&G hospitals measure up?
Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH)

CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall Seaway News was interested in comparing Emergency Room (ER) wait times at SD&G’s three hospitals, the Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH), the Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital (HGMH), and the Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH).

All information used in this story was sourced from Healthy Quality Ontario, which tracks statistics and information from Ontario’s healthcare sector. All data is based on average statistics for the month of November.

For the amount of time between seeing a triage nurse in the ER to the time a patient saw a doctor, the HGMH came out on top with an average wait time of 1.4 hours. The CCH was close behind with an average wait time of 1.5 hours and the WDMH had a wait time of 1.8 hours.

This trend continued for the amount of time low-urgency patients spent in the ER. These are patients with symptoms like sore throats and vomiting who are not admitted to the hospital. Wait times for these patients in the ER was 2.2 hours, 2.4 hours and 2.7 hours for the HGMH, CCH and WDMH respectively. Across all three hospitals, at least 75 percent of patients were seen and treated and were able to leave within the provincial target time of four hours.

For high-urgency patients, those with severe allergic reactions, overdoses, etc., who are not admitted to hospital, wait times begin to get longer. At the WDMH, the average stay for these patients is 4 hours, at the CCH the average time is 4.4 hours and at the HGMH the average stay time for these patients is much lower at 2.9 hours. At all three hospitals in SD&G, 90 percent or more of these high urgency patients were in and out of the ER within the eight hour target range.

These wait times grow longer if the patient is admitted to the hospital. ER patients who were admitted to the WDMH spent an average of 7.3 hours at the hospital, this means that only 32 percent of these patients spent longer than the target time of eight hours at the hospital. At the CCH, admitted patients spent 11.8 hours at the hospital with 58 percent of them spending longer than the target time there. At the HGMH the average patient admitted from the ER spent 15.7 hours at the hospital, meaning that only 28 percent left within the target time of eight hours.

CCH President and CEO Jeanette Despatie explained how wait times can be affected by different variables at the hospital.

“This time is impacted by a number of factors, including the time of day, the volume of patients, the acuity of the patient and other patients, the number of available physicians, tests and consultations required to access the patient,” Despatie said. “While all of these factors impact the wait times for patient it is important to note that patient flow is managed by a triage system; this ensures that the sickest patients are seen and cared for in a timely manner.  Life threatening conditions will always take priority for resources, including doctors, nurses and diagnostic testing equipment.”

Despatie explained that there were a number of factors that the CCH continues to work on to improve ER wait times including the introduction of a physician assistant during high volume times, expanding regular hours for the Diagnostic Imaging Department, improving the transfer of admitted patients to in-patient areas and improving triage efficiencies through training, education and a review of workflows.

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