QEH to install ER wait-time monitors

Charlottetown's Queen Elizabeth Hospital is installing monitors in its emergency room to keep patients up to date on how long they will be waiting.

Charlottetown's Queen Elizabeth Hospital is installing monitors in its emergency room to keep patients informed about how long they will be waiting.

The average wait time is two hours, but staff want to cut that further and they're taking a patient's advice on how to do it.

Retired engineer David Turner has had kidney problems for the past year. That's brought him to the emergency room at the QEH more than a dozen times for pain control.

He said the long wait times have been frustrating, but even worse was not knowing how long he'd have to wait.

"My last visit there, I've seen people get up and leave in pain. Children, you know, crying," Turner said.

Over the past few months, Turner has talked to the hospital's administration and written letters suggesting it install electronic patient information screens, like those at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.

The screens tell patients how many others are waiting, how long the wait is expected to be and even why, said John Gillis, spokesman at the QEII.

"Here we can see whether there are ambulances with patients to be transferred to our care and how many others are expected to arrive," he said, demonstrating how the monitors work.

QEH said there will be two information screens installed in its emergency waiting room in the next month or so.

"We would hope to replenish that information every 15 minutes to half an hour," said Rick Adams, executive director at QEH.

Checkout time to be enforced

Adams said reducing ER wait times is a challenge for the hospital and they're about to make other changes, including strictly enforcing the 11 a.m. discharge time for patients.

Also, patients who are admitted to hospital will be moved from the ER to a hospital unit sooner, freeing up space.

"Within two hours of a bed being assigned to an individual, that individual is going to go to the unit. They'll wait on a stretcher, in the unit, until the room is cleared," Adams said.

"That allows us to remove some of the congestion. It's only a bit, but every bit helps."

Information screens are planned for other emergency rooms in P.E.I. after they are tested at the QEH.