November 17, 2009

Pilot to Improve Emergency Care Launched at Seven Oaks

The Winnipeg Health Region today launched a new emergency care pilot project at Seven Oaks General Hospital to improve communication and service to Emergency Department (ED) visitors.

"When visiting an emergency room, patients and families want to know what to expect and how quickly they will receive the care they need," Health Minister Theresa Oswald said. "This pilot project will provide patients with more information and improve the communication between patients and their health care providers."

A new electronic information board has been added to the patient waiting area to provide regularly updated information on how busy the emergency department is and approximate wait times. A new brochure will support ED visitors in understanding the care they receive and encourage feedback and suggestions on their experience.

"We're working to see patients safely and quickly, and ensure that seriously ill patients are given priority for care," WRHA President and CEO, Dr. Brian Postl said. "We also want to support the patient's visit to the Emergency Department."

"The pilot project will prevent frustration because it helps communicate directly to individuals and family members waiting," Dr. Ricardo Lobato de Faria, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Emergency Medicine Director said.

Dr. Lobato de Faria, who is also the provincial advisor on emergency patient care, said it is important that people waiting for emergency help do not get frustrated and leave. "No one should leave without being treated," he said.

The electronic information board draws on up-to-date information from the Emergency Department Information System to provide details on the number of patients in the waiting room, average time patients have been waiting, longest time a patient currently in the waiting room has been waiting, and the average time patients now receiving treatment waited to see a doctor. The new information brochure includes information on the initial assessment and exam process, discusses the importance of not leaving before being treated, assists in answering key questions, and includes a form for patients and families to provide feedback and suggestions to further improve emergency care.

WRHA Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, Lori Lamont said the project shows how the patient experience can be improved at little cost. "The physical cost of the project was minimal -- mostly the cost of the TV screen and a computer -- but a lot of planning and background work took place by technical staff before it could proceed," she said, noting the system was developed internally and cost under $9,700.

The Seven Oaks pilot will be evaluated, including patient feedback, and changes may be made to further enhance the system.

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