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Longer summer wait times a reality at QEH

While most people don’t want to visit the emergency room, if they’re heading to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) this summer, a longer wait will be in store for them.

Emergency room sees about 30 per cent more patients in July and August compared to other months

While most people don’t want to visit the emergency room, if they’re heading to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) this summer, a longer wait will be in store for them.

That’s because more people visit the hospital in July and August. On average, the hospital sees 130 people per day during those months, compared to 100 in other months.

The reason for the increase in visits is because people are more active and there are more tourists around, which result in more injuries.

Despite the increased demand for services, QEH does not increase emergency room staffing in the summer because the day-to-day demand is unpredictable.

The hospital’s CAO agrees the wait times can be long.

“It is really important to note that when a patient comes into emergency, they are assessed immediately and then depending on their level of illness — what's wrong with them, if it is critical, life threatening — they are seen right away," said Jamie MacDonald.

Officials say waits vary day to day. Sometimes, it’s just a couple of hours, but it’s worse on evening and weekends.

The hospital says eight to 12-hour waits only happen a couple days per month.

Everett MacKenzie recently had to wait seven hours at the emergency room to see a doctor. He was experiencing some pain in his arm and chest and it concerned him because he previously suffered a heart attack.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said.

The hospital says a few years ago, eight to 12 hour waits were more common. Things have improved since then because specialized clinics within the hospital treat some people who had to go to the emergency room and there are more walk-in clinics.