Hamilton hospital emergency wait times at ‘crisis levels’ — more than 2 hours

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Published June 16, 2022 at 12:14 pm

Hamilton hospital emergency wait times at 'crisis levels' — more than 2 hours
On average, patients visiting Hamilton hospitals waited an average of 2.05 hours before seeing a doctor in April. The provincial average was 1.9 hours.

On average, patients visiting Hamilton hospitals waited an average of 2.05 hours before seeing a doctor in April.

Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) Juravinski Hospital had the longest average wait of 2.5 hours in April 2022, according to data from Health Quality Ontario, which tracks the quality of health care in the province. Data for May was not available.

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The provincial average was 1.9 hours, and one emergency physician says we’re in a “crisis” that’s about to get even worse with provincial mask mandates being dropped at hospitals.

“At the moment in Ontario, ER wait times and crowding is at crisis levels,” tweeted Kashif Pirzada. “Many of us have never seen it this bad in our entire careers.”

“The expiry of mask mandates in medical settings (in June) is set to make this problem much worse.”

HHS’ Children’s and General hospitals both had an average wait time of 2.3-hours in April.

St. Joseph’s Charlton Campus had an average wait time of 1.1 hours.

The data shows a correlation between provincial COVID-19 lockdown measures and the amount of time patients wait before seeing a doctor during a hospital visit.

In April of 2021, the province declared its third state of emergency and announced a second stay-at-home order. During that month, despite COVID-19 hospitalizations being approximately four times greater than in April of this year, the average wait time at Hamilton hospitals was 1.27 hours — more than an hour less. This is likely due to fewer people visiting hospitals for non-COVID-related health issues last year.

“Many primary care clinics either closed or switch to telemedicine during the early phases of the pandemic,” said Pirzada. “Many of these patients come to the ER for care instead, for acute and chronic problems. Our emergency care system was never designed for (this kind) of demand and is buckling.”

Pirzada added that vaccination won’t provide enough relief because children under five are vaccinated and many health care workers are parents, infection with SARS2 is not benign and carries a high risk of Long Covid, and many patients are on chemo or have impaired immunity.

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