The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) continues working to improve the time it takes for emergency department (ED) patients to be admitted to the hospital.
At a news conference on Monday, CKHA CEO Lori Marshall admitted the target of five hours is "ambitious," adding the average wait time over the last year has been around eight hours, with a recent peak of 11.9 hours. That doesn't include the time spent waiting to be seen by a healthcare provider upon arrival at the ED. That average wait time is 4.5 hours from the time a patient arrives to the time they're attended to.
Marshall said the hospitals in Chatham and Wallaceburg continue to be "a good performer provincially," but admitted even five hours can seem very long for an emergency patient waiting for a hospital bed.
"All of us would recognize and anyone who's been through an experience where you have been in an emergency department and needing admission from there, that even at five hours, that seems like a long time to be lying in an emergency department and to get up to a bed," said Marshall. "One of the major reasons why this become a focus for us as a whole organization is that it really does take a village in order for us to have appropriate patient flow.
Marshall said ultimately a bed needs to be available for the incoming patient and then the proper planning has to take place to ensure the patient is well informed about medications, as well as arranging a ride and maybe home care or other care. She added the hospital room also has to be cleaned and reviewed for infection control before a new patient comes in.
Meanwhile, CKHA said a recent job fair was a great success. Chief Nursing Executive Meredith Whitehead told reporters on Monday that nearly 200 job seekers attended the CKHA job fair in Chatham on March 21, 2023 and 20 interviews were done on the spot. Whitehead added that the Registered Nurse (RN) vacancy rate is improving slightly, although there are some RN retirements pending at the Wallaceburg emergency department.
Whitehead said the current staff vacancy rate at CKHA is now down to 7.97 per cent, slightly down from 8.1 per cent last summer.