New website sheds light on emergency care in Red Deer

Occupancy rate high at hospital

Beds in Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre had the highest occupancy rate last fall among medium-sized urban hospitals in Alberta according to a new interactive website comparing Alberta’s busiest emergency departments.

From October and December, Red Deer’s hospital occupancy was at 99 per cent, followed by 96 per cent at Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert. Elizabeth II Hospital in Grande Prairie and Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge were both at 92 per cent. Medicine Hat Regional Hospital came in at 88.

Hospital occupancy affects those waiting to be seen in the emergency department if emergency patients admitted to hospital cannot be moved to a bed.

The occupancy data is from FOCUS on Emergency Departments, the website developed by Health Quality Council of Alberta, that shows 18 ways health care is compared at the province’s 16 busiest emergency departments. HQCA has gathered and presented the data for years, and is now making it available in a new format.

Andrew Neuner, HQCA chief executive officer, said access to information and transparency is important to a publicly funded health care system. It fosters trust, confidence, and where necessary improvements.

“There’s more to be learned at every site. What we hope it does is that for those health care providers in Red Deer, those patients in Red Deer, that they will use the information to look at where there are opportunities for improvement, and have a look at how other hospitals are doing and perhaps start different conversations about improving the system,” said Neuner on Tuesday when FOCUS was launched.

Other data on Red Deer’s emergency department from 2016 showed:

– On average eight admitted patients per hour were waiting in the emergency department for a hospital bed from October to December.

– Five out of 10 patients requiring urgent care waited less than 1.3 hours to see an emergency doctor while five out of 10 patients waited longer from July to September.

– Patients’ stay was 10 per cent longer than the average hospital stay for similar patients in Canada from July to September.

Neuner said length of hospital stays shows patients in St. Albert, Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie had shorter stays compared to Red Deer, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. So the further north these hospitals were located, the shorter the hospital stays.

“That’s too big a gap to shrug off. I think that requires some attention and understanding for why that is. It may be that there’s a great reason for it, but people should know why that is.”

New data will be added to FOCUS on Emergency Departments every 90 days.

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