Partnership to aid patients in selecting most appropriate care option
Clinics and walk-in options encouraged to share available appointments and current wait times
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Thursday, November 24, 2022
An online medical clinic directory will provide Winnipeg patients with real-time information about wait times at nearby walk-in clinics, allowing those with less serious health concerns to receive care more quickly, without a visit to an emergency department or urgent care centre.
The directory, supported by Medimap.ca, is now available on the Winnipeg Health Region's MyRightCare.ca, alongside real-time waits for emergency departments, urgent care centres and walk-in connected care clinics.
"Displaying all of the options available to patients in one place will make it easier for individuals to find the appropriate place to seek care," said Dr. Joss Reimer, chief medical officer for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. "While this alone won't solve longer wait times in emergency and urgent care, the service offers patients with less urgent needs a clear alternative to visiting an emergency department or urgent care centre where they are likely to experience a long wait."
Analysis of hour-by-hour data for November 2019 shows that approximately 21,000 patients with less urgent needs visited emergency departments or urgent care centres that month, with a median wait of 2.4 hours. Nearly half of those patients, the WRHA and Medimap analysis shows, could have received care at a walk-in clinic, where the average wait for the same timeframe was 40 minutes.
The partnership is the latest of several initiatives designed and implemented since the spring to address ongoing patient flow challenges that are causing long waits for patients in emergency and urgent care, particularly those with less serious illnesses and injuries. These initiatives, as well as others in development, will take on even greater significance this winter as the number of respiratory cases continue to rise.
An early start to the respiratory virus and flu season for children has driven patient volumes at HSC Children's emergency departments to record levels this month. Overall visits to emergency and urgent care have surged this month to approximately 250 per week, which is double the rate seen last November. Patient admissions due to respiratory illness have seen a similar uptick this month.
"Respiratory season began about a month early this year, causing increased illness throughout the community - particularly amongst children, who are more susceptible to viruses. This is already impacting the emergency department at HSC Children's," said Dr. Shawn Young, chief operating officer of HSC Winnipeg. "Providing information to parents and caregivers about when and where to seek care will be key over the coming months as respiratory season evolves and more people become sick."
Shared Health has created a webpage that provides advice for parents on how to treat their sick or injured child. It can be viewed at KidCareMB.ca.
Preventative measures to avoid illness are also encouraged. These include:
- Getting vaccinated, particularly at this moment for influenza;
- Staying home when sick (including from daycare and schools);
- Regularly washing hands;
- Masking when out in large crowds;
- Sneezing or coughing into one's elbow instead of hands;
- Avoiding the sharing of drinks and face towels; and
- Regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces (door knobs, taps, countertops, etc.) to keep them free of germs.
Heading into respiratory season, overall median and 90th percentile wait times for Winnipeg's four emergency departments and three urgent care centres decreased slightly. Median wait times across all sites were three hours in October, a 4.8-minute improvement from the previous month. Ninetieth percentile waits for the month were 8.2 hours, a 13.2-minute improvement from September.
Other data of note includes:
- The number of daily visits to emergency and urgent care increased in October to an average of 783.5, up from 773.2 the previous month;
- The median length of stay for patients in emergency or urgent care who are awaiting admission to an inpatient unit was 22.48 hours in October. This is up 12 minutes from September, when the median length of stay for patients awaiting admission was 22.28 hours; and
- The overall left without being seen (LWBS) rate improved slightly, from 16.5 per cent in September to 16.3 per cent in October. The LWBS rate at HSC Winnipeg's adult ED was 29.7 per cent. This is up slightly from September, when the rate was 27.7 per cent.
Patients are reminded to continue seeking help in an emergency, either by calling 911 or going to an emergency department or urgent care centre. All patients are assessed and triaged upon arrival and care will be provided, with the sickest and most injured patients prioritized.
Monthly ED wait times data, as well as an FAQ, is available here.