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Excellent Care for All

Short-Stay Beds – Reducing ER Wait Times

Health Care Challenge

Since Ontario started publicly reporting ER wait times in 2008, hospitals have been able to decrease the wait by 23% for complex conditions and by 9% for minor or uncomplicated conditions. Approximately 85 per cent of all Ontario patients who visit emergency rooms are being seen within the provincial targets.  Hospitals around the province are constantly innovating to further reduce the wait for people who need emergency treatment.

Delays in the ER are a complex problem that cannot be solved by focusing on the emergency department alone. In some cases, a lack of in-patient beds makes it difficult for a hospital to reduce the wait for patients who need to be admitted.

Real Change In Action

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) piloted a unique initiative to move patients who need admission for additional observation, assessment, and treatment. The initiative includes short-stay beds located on in-patient units. The beds are dedicated to patients admitted through the ER. The length of stay is up to 72 hours.

These additional beds allow physicians to transfer patients out of the emergency department while maintaining the ability to provide care and monitor their progress. The short-stay bed program provides immediate capacity relief when there is a shortage of in-patient beds. 

“We have made tremendous progress in reducing the time Ontarians wait in the emergency room and short-stay beds will further decrease the time they’re waiting,” said Donna Cripps, the CEO of the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network (HNHB LHIN). “This program will move patients from waiting in an emergency room to an actual bed in a patient care room in the hospital where they will continue to get more appropriate and timely care.”

Better Quality Care

The success of HHS’s two-year pilot prompted the government to fund   212 new short-stay beds at  23 hospitals around the province. The funding comes from the Pay-for-Results funding initiative, which provides incentives to the busiest ERs to reduce wait times.

The short-stay units have helped to improve patient flow by ensuring that ER admitted patients are transferred out of the ER sooner, while providing the ER with capacity and resources to maintain timely access to services.

“We know firsthand that these beds make a difference,” said Cripps. “Short-stay beds significantly enhance our ability to move people to where they will receive the right care in the right place. The patient has a more positive experience and the hospital is able to reduce wait times for all patients.”

For information regarding Short-Stay Beds, contact your Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN).

For More Information

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