September 29, 2008

Health Sciences Centre Emergency Department

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg today outlined and updated changes being made to the way patients move through the hospital's Emergency Department.

"These are improvements in processes that will result in better patient care," Dr. Brian Postl, WRHA President and CEO, said. The changes are the result of consultations with HSC and Regional Emergency Program staff following the tragic death of 45-year-old Brian Sinclair on September 21, 2008.

Dr. Brock Wright, WRHA Vice President and Chief Medical Officer and HSC Chief Operating Officer, said patients and their families will see an immediate difference when they arrive at the HSC Emergency Department.

"They will be greeted at the door by a staff member who will immediately register those who are seeking care and give them a green wristband," Dr. Wright said. "The wristband will make sure they are easily identifiable as someone who needs care but has not yet been triaged."

Once a patient has been triaged, the green wristband will be replaced with an HSC patient ID bracelet. Dr. Wright noted this new process was initiated last Thursday afternoon.

The hospital is also adding extra staff to the department - skilled communicators with a background in social work and trained to deal with stressful situations - whose job it will be to regularly check on everyone in the waiting room and communicate with them, their family or anyone else who is with them and may have questions, Dr. Wright said.

These new staff members will be stationed in the waiting room and will be in addition to the reassessment nurses whose primary function is to reassess patients who have been triaged, but who are also charged with monitoring others in the department.

The hospital and region are also exploring the possibility of increasing the
number of blood tests that could be processed in the Emergency Department instead of being sent out for results. This would reduce the amount of time many patients now have to spend in the department waiting for those results.

These changes are in addition to those implemented last week that require:

  • reassessment nurses to monitor everyone in the department, not just triaged patients awaiting treatment, and

  • primary care clinics to phone emergency departments in advance to notify them of patient referrals.

Dr. Postl said the Region recognizes that any visit to an Emergency Department is a stressful experience for the patient and his or her family.

"These changes are designed to ensure patients are being monitored and that they know that someone is watching out for them," he said. Some of these changes, such as the wristband project, may be expanded to other sites after it has been evaluated.

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