Ambulance off-loading program being expanded at hospitals in Milton, Halton Hills

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Published March 24, 2023 at 11:09 am

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A program to have dedicated ambulance-offloading staff at hospitals is being expanded to include Milton District Hospital and Georgetown Hospital in Halton Hills.

Provincial funding for the program is being almost doubled, to just over $1 million, for the dedicated ambulance patient offload position staffing in the emergency department of Halton hospitals to receive patients from paramedics.

The program has expanded staffing options beyond nurses to include respiratory therapists, paramedics, or other healthcare providers.

Halton Region staff have been trying to get the program expanded beyond Oakville and Burlington hospitals for more than a decade.

If the additional Provincial funding is approved for the the next fiscal year, the Georgetown and Milton hospitals would transition to 12/7 staffing, which would require Halton Region to continue to fund a portion, but at a reduced level.

According to the report presented to Halton Region, hospital offload delay is a systemic healthcare issue that is predominantly attributed to a lack of in-patient hospital beds, which results in admitted patients occupying beds in the emergency department of the hospital.

The inability to move the patient from the ambulance stretcher to a hospital bed requires paramedics to continue providing care for patients in the emergency department until hospital staff can accept responsibility for the patient and begin providing in-hospital care (transfer of care).

The Ministry of Health has previously identified a target time of 30 minutes from the time paramedics arrive at the emergency department until the vehicle is available to respond to another request for service.

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