Health network hoping $2.3-million will cut emergency waits

Waterloo Wellington com­munities will receive spending of more than $2.3-million to ad­dress emergency room wait­ing times and support alternate levels of care.

The funding is part of a $109-million in spending in Ontario to reduce emergency room waits. A major factor causing long emergency room waits is the high number of patients occupying acute care hospital beds when they could be moved to a more appropriate alternate level of care.

Grand River Hospital will receive over $1.2-million via the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network. Together with the network, Grand River Hospital will take the lead and work with other hospitals, the Community Care Access Centre of Waterloo Wellington, local health service providers, and Dr. Aaron Smith, the network’s emer­gen­cy department leader, to iden­tify and implement solutions to improve waiting times in our local emergency rooms and address areas of alternate levels of care pressures.

As part of the plans an­nounced last week, the access centres of Waterloo Wellington will have the financial re­sour­ces to increase the number of personal support and home­making services for individuals receiving care in their homes; further enhance the case man­agement services currently avail­able in emergency depart­ments; and be electronically linked to the hospitals to ensure patients are receiving the right care in the right place.

The network has taken ini­tial steps toward addressing alternate levels of care and emergency room issues.  More than $20-million over three years was recently allocated by the network to fund over 20 initiatives to support its Aging At Home strategy providing services for seniors to enable them to live independently, for a long as possible, in a safe home of their choice.

The money provides sup­ports for seniors that will help keep them out of emergency rooms and alternate care beds.

As well, plans are in place to help alleviate such pressures by financially supporting 32 transition beds throughout the communities through urgent priority funding of more than $1.6-million.

“Emergency room waiting times and alternate level of care issues cannot be addressed in isolation, said network Chief Executive Officer  Sandra Hanmer. “The solution is to look at both, in concert and from a system-wide perspec­tive. We are making a com­mitment to work with our health service providers, and the community, to identify and implement solutions that will lead to services that more appropriately meet the needs of patients throughout Waterloo Wellington.”