Conflicting numbers about ER wait times in Edmonton
Published Monday, February 14, 2011 6:23PM MST
Health officials say their numbers show a 20 to 30 per cent improvement in Edmonton's emergency rooms, yet the numbers officials are making public show the system is still far from hitting targets.
Officials say their numbers show an improvement, but those stats are not ready for "public consumption" yet. And the numbers officials are making public show the system still needs to meet targets.
On Monday, Alberta Health Services said 239 of the promised 360 hospital beds are now open in Edmonton and Calgary. The province previously announced it plans to have all 360 beds open by the end of March.
The beds include transition unit beds, hospice beds, medical assessment units, detoxification and mental health beds.
Of the 360 beds, 121 include transition beds, which will serve those waiting to be transferred to a continuing care facility.
The new beds allow for more room on inpatient units for patients who are waiting for admission to the ER.
"[I] can tell you that at many sites we are seeing an improvement of anywhere from 20 to 30 per cent," said Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky.
But those figures don't match the numbers shown on the Alberta Health Services' website. Its weekly stats for Edmonton ERs show the number of patients being admitted to hospital within eight hours sits at 26 per cent at the Royal Alexandra Hospital last week, which is only a slight improvement over the 23 per cent figure when the transition beds were first announced last November.
"Improvements that have taken place over the last six months and over the last two months since the protocols came in place," said Zwozdesky.
CTV New also compared the ER numbers to when the protocols first came in back in December, and even with the new beds now on line, the recent figures show the number of patients getting admitted within the target time has dropped by four percentage points.
And when CTV asked the health minister about the conflict in numbers, he responded: "They are just not updated yet."
The health minister insisted the numbers he received on Sunday and Monday, show an improvement of 20 to 30 per cent.
Later in the day, the health ministry informed CTV the significant improvements the health minister referred to were stats taken at 5:30 a.m. Monday.
"They have to be careful to not exaggerate improvements before they happen because we have been through the ringer on health care for the last two years and Albertans are not easily fooled," said David Eggen with Friends of Medicare.
With files from Kevin Armstrong