Paramedics wait at least three hours to transfer some patients to Ottawa hospitals, officials say

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Ontario paramedics say they are facing a health care crisis due to emergency room closures and health worker shortages, creating a perfect storm for ambulance delays and roadblocks roads for rapid access to care.

This means the public may have to wait longer for an ambulance in Ottawa.

“We now know that nine out of ten times when paramedics take you to a hospital in Ottawa, it takes at least three hours to transfer the care of the paramedics to the hospital,” said Michael Nolan, Chief Paramedic Services of Renfrew County.

Offloading delays have increased dramatically and Chief Nolan says this means paramedics are responding to fewer calls.

“When you go to a 12-hour shift and you can only help three or four patients on that shift because it takes three or four hours for each call,” Nolan said.

He says unloading delays are causing significant delays to work, including more “level zero” incidents. This is where there are no ambulances available to respond to calls.

“It really is a health care crisis,” Nolan said.

The Ontario Paramedics Association says the situation has been discouraging for paramedics.

“We’ve seen an increase from zero over the past year, with a 200 per cent increase,” said Daryl Wilton of the Ontario Paramedic Association.

The Paramedics Association of Ontario says there are a number of factors driving the crisis, including more people calling 911, more accessing hospital emergency rooms, and there have been closures of hospital wards as well as a decrease in occupational health staff.

On July 21, the discharge time for paramedics to transfer a patient to the care of emergency room staff at an Ottawa hospital was over three hours for about 30 patients, according to the Ottawa Paramedic Service. Ottawa.

“Overall, yes, the situation is getting worse,” said Pierre Poirier, chief of the Ottawa Paramedic Service.

Ottawa Paramedics hired 28 paramedics this year. Poirier says 16 of them have been trained and will be on the road over the next few weeks.

“We’re not happy,” Wilton said. “People are lashing out at the paramedics and they are expressing their frustration at the delays.”

In a statement to The Canadian Press, Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones said the province has added more than 10,500 health care workers to the system since the pandemic began. The Department of Health said the government’s latest budget included $7 million in additional funding for a program that brings in healthcare workers to help transfer ambulance patients to hospital care. The budget was presented in April but was not adopted before the elections.


With files from The Canadian Press

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