File photo by Advocate staff

Longer wait times at Red Deer hospital’s ER due to staff shortage on weekend

“Right now we’re short staffed but it’s subsiding. It was critical Saturday evening”

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s emergency department experienced longer wait times over the weekend due to staff shortage.

Although the shortage subsided Sunday, the department is not out of the woods yet.

Rob Swanson, Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre executive director, said on any usual day, the emergency department has about 15 nurses plus other support staff. On Friday and Saturday, the department was down about six and five registered nurses respectively.

“We had a significant shortage of staff – just over a third of our regular complement was short,” said Swanson.

On Sunday, the department was down two to three nurses.

“Right now we’re short staffed but it’s subsiding. It was critical Saturday evening,” said Swanson on Sunday.

He said the average wait times in the emergency department is about three to three and half hours during the summers. That number was higher over the three-day period.

The executive director said despite the shortage, patient safety was not jeopardized and no one was turned away.

Staff members from other departments and also within the emergency department such as the minor treatment unit, were deployed to care for patients with urgent needs.

Patients who needed urgent care were prioritized, like always, said Swanson.

He said the shortage is a result of a variety of reasons from people taking time off during summer and going on holidays.

“My belief is that the weekend is the toughest point because often there aren’t as many resources available,” said Swanson.

He said the number of patients coming in to the emergency department wasn’t as high over the three-day period.

“It was a benefit that we didn’t have increased volume of patients.”

The staff shortage will be monitored over the next week.

“We fully expect we will be back to close to normal over the next week,” Swanson said.

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