Horizon Health says it's working to fix Moncton Hospital's extreme offload delay problem

·2 min read
Ambulances parked outside Moncton Hospital on June 27, 2022  (Kevin Ganong - image credit)
Ambulances parked outside Moncton Hospital on June 27, 2022 (Kevin Ganong - image credit)

Horizon Health says it's well aware that Moncton Hospital has the lengthiest delays when it comes to getting patients from ambulance to hospital bed.

In the past six months, there were 140 reports of patients waiting more than 12 hours, including nine patients who waited in hallways on stretchers for 24 to 40 hours.

Except for one 24-hour delay reported May 10 at Moncton's Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre, all were attributed to the Moncton Hospital, according to data provided by Ambulance New Brunswick.

"There are a number of issues in Moncton and we are working as quickly as we can to address them," said Margaret Melanson, Interim President and CEO of Horizon Health Network.

Ambulance offload delays by number of hours

"We're as concerned as everyone else."

Melanson says the issue is "partly staffing-related."

She says it's also due to the proportion of ambulances in the Moncton area that go to the Moncton Hospital instead of the Dumont because of the kind of care each hospital provides.

Ambulance offload delays exceeding 24 hours

All New Brunswick hospitals with an emergency department are designated as trauma centres but they're also rated from level one to five by the Trauma Association of Canada. Level five hospitals provide emergency stabilization while level one and two hospitals provide the most complex care.

The Saint John Regional Hospital is New Brunswick's only level one accredited hospital. The Moncton Hospital is rated level two and the Dumont is rated at three.

Multitude of small improvements

Melanson says Horizon is devoting time to review what is happening in Moncton and testing out "a multitude of small improvements."

"We know that's the site where we have the greatest need," she said.

The next step would be to copy the best practices at other Horizon hospitals.

Meanwhile, the union that represents paramedics says the delays are hard on morale.

"It's frustrating," said NBU President Susie Proulx-Daigle. "There's a disillusionment because they were hired to do first responder care and they're stuck waiting in line."

"They have the duty of care because there's no one inside to take over."

Proulx-Daigle says it's time for the paramedics to be part of the conversation around possible solutions. For example, she says, ambulances could be rerouted to hospitals that are not reporting prolonged delays.