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USEFUL LINK: Ontario's New Emergency Room Departments LIVE "Wait Times" Website

Under the provincial government’s new Wait Time Strategy, the Niagara Health System (NHS) is constantly trying to improve and has made significant progress in patient wait times for key procedures and to make things even easier for patients, wait times for both minor and complex patients in Emergency Room Departments are now posted publicly for hospitals across Ontario, including the Niagara Health System. (See ‘useful link’ further down below for the Niagara region.)

Through the Ontario Wait Times website, Ontarians can now find wait times for all surgical areas performed and diagnostic CT and MRI procedures at hospitals across the province.

Snapshot of website

Ontario Wait Times Strategy
From the Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care‘s (MOHLTC) website:

Ontario’s Wait Time Strategy was developed to improve access to five key health services by reducing wait times for cancer surgery, cardiac procedures, cataract surgery, hip and knee replacement and MRI and CT scans.

The strategy has since expanded to include all surgeries and time spent in emergency rooms (ER). The government’s goal is to improve public access to surgeries and procedures delivered to Ontarians; implement new initiatives to improve ER processes; and create a system of accountability through transparent reporting of wait time information.

Emergency Room length of stay
Reporting the time patients spend in the ER is part of Ontario’s commitment to being open about our progress. Reducing ER wait times and improving access to family health care are the two top health care priorities.

Surgery, MRI and CT wait times
Reporting Ontario’s surgical, MRI and CT wait times is an important part of the government’s commitment to accountability when it comes to reducing wait times for key health services.

You’ve got your search results. Now what?
Share the results with your doctor and request a referral to the health care option with the shortest wait time that is most convenient for you.

This initiative is the first of its kind in North America by the MOHLTC.

Useful Link: 
Emergency Department and Urgent Care Centre Wait Times for the Niagara Region.

Snapshot of  Emergency Department and Urgent Care Centre Wait Times website for the Niagara Region

From their Frequently Asked Questions section:
Why are you making this information available to the public?
Wait times in our Emergency Departments and Urgent Care Centres are among the most frequently asked questions by our patients and families. Launching this new system reinforces our commitment to be transparent and accountable by communicating information in real time that will help those we serve make more informed decisions about their care.

For all medical emergencies, call 9-1-1 (free from any cell or payphone). Emergency Departments treat patients with serious injuries and illness. Urgent Care Centres treat patients with minor injuries and illness.

What does the online wait time represent?
The online wait time reflects the most current estimate of how long it will take from the time you are assessed by a triage nurse in the Emergency Department or Urgent Care Centre until you are seen by a doctor or nurse practitioner. It is not a guarantee of the length of time patients will wait.

Why are wait times always changing?
Emergency demand can change quickly and dramatically depending on patient need. An incident such as a serious trauma can unexpectedly and significantly impact the wait time for others. The wait time data is updated every 20 minutes, allowing us to provide the most current estimate of the wait time patients can expect to see a physician or nurse practitioner when and if they come to one of our Emergency Departments or Urgent Care Centres.

Why are other people being seen before me?
The sickest patients are always seen first to ensure they get the care they need, even though they may arrive at the Emergency Department after other patients. Patients with life- or limb-threatening injuries or illness are treated first, followed by those with less urgent illness or medical conditions.

All Canadian hospitals use the same standard tool to evaluate a patient’s medical urgency. A specially trained triage nurse assesses each patient’s condition upon arrival and prioritizes their medical need based on five triage levels, No. 1 being the most critical and No. 5 being non-urgent.

Should I use the online wait times to determine where I should go?
The online wait time tool is meant to give the public general information about wait times.

In the case of a serious emergency, always call 911. Urgent Care Centres are for minor injuries or illness. If your medical problem isn’t urgent, you may want to consider alternatives other than the Emergency Department, such as Urgent Care Centres, family doctors’ offices or walk-in clinics. Using any of these options for minor medical issues helps alleviate pressure on Emergency Departments and reduces wait times for everyone. Providing wait times on the NHS website is not medical advice or a recommendation that you choose a specific Emergency Department or Urgent Care Centre.

Source: niagarahealth

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