EMS workers spend many unproductive hours waiting in hospital hallways: survey

RYAN RUMBOLT (HTTPS://CALGARYHERALD.COM/AUTHOR/RCRUMBOLTPOSTMEDIA)

Emergency Medical Services employees in Alberta say more can be done to cut down on patient transfers, hallway wait times and ambulance “red alerts.”

The Liberals conducted an anonymous survey of Alberta paramedics this summer. Gary Bobrovitz, spokesperson for the party, said copies of the survey were given to the EMS union for distribution to members.

David Khan, Liberal party leader, shared the results with EMS workers and Calgarians at a panel on Thursday. Bobrovitz said the crowd of attendees was small but included at least a few EMS workers.

The survey findings helped the party draft a number of EMS improvement recommendations to the NDP, calling on the province to reduce overtime hours, lengthy waits for patient handover in hospital while bolstering the community paramedic program.

Over 100 EMS staff responded to the survey anonymously to avoid workplace repercussions, the Liberal party said. And while Bobrovitz said some of the results are “largely anecdotal,” the numbers show EMS members have ongoing concerns with the level of service they can provide and long patient transfer wait times.

The survey summary shows 57.3 per cent of those surveyed believe hallway wait times have increased since they had begun working for EMS. Another 28.2 per cent of respondents believed the wait times were unchanged, with only 9.7 per cent believing wait times have gone down.

The Liberals’ data showed paramedics spent more than 650,000 hours in 2016 waiting to transfer care of patients to hospital staff. EMS staff also clocked more than 135,000 hours of overtime that year, for an estimated $10 million in additional wages at the taxpayers’ expense.

In the survey, EMS workers identified long hallway waits for patient hand over “as a source of delayed response times,” are “impacting the quality of care they were able to deliver,” and are having “a negative impact” on relationships with other healthcare workers and on their “quality of care.”

Workers also said the long waits have “led to red alerts that have forced ambulances out of surrounding areas to cover the Calgary region.”

The Liberals say those surveyed identified a lack of beds, a lack of communication between facilities, and patients who don’t require emergency care using emergency services as possible causes for the long waits.

As far as solutions, workers said more fast track zones, having a doctor present at triage and more long term care options to free up beds could cut down on wait times and take pressure off frontline hospital staff.

In addition to the survey, the Liberals also set up a hotline this summer for EMS workers and citizens to anonymously report their EMS concerns. “In regards to the response from citizens, individuals highlighted increased wait times, as well as issues with provision of care,” the summary reads.

“Individuals spoke about their experiences in the case of some who waited a long time to have their call answered or others whose provision of care was not patient-centred.”

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman criticized the hotline for “directing patient and frontline feedback” away from AHS’s feedback line “and toward their own political party.”

The province increased funding for EMS by $23 million in its 2018 budget and has “committed to creating 2,000 long term and dementia care spaces by 2019,” Hoffman said in a statement.

Albertans with EMS feedback should contact the AHS Patient Feedback team by calling 1-855-550-2555.

Updated: October 5, 2018

Calgary EMS ambulance P O S T M E D I A A R C H I V E S

RRumbolt@postmedia.com (mailto:RRumbolt@postmedia.com)

On Twitter: @RCRumbolt (https://twitter.com/RCRumbolt)


Dr. David Swann on the EMS crisis in Alberta – The Homestretch

On the Homestretch: “The Alberta Liberals say Emergency Medical Services are in crisis in our province and more needs to be done. The party surveyed patients and EMS workers to get their thoughts on care. They will be talking about the results and some possible solutions this evening at a public forum. Dr David Swann is a Liberal MLA for Calgary Mountain View. He joined host Doug Dirks on the line.”

October 3rd: https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1337022531587


Alberta Liberals call on NDP to fix EMS, emergency room ‘crisis’

RYAN RUMBOLT (HTTPS://CALGARYHERALD.COM/AUTHOR/RCRUMBOLTPOSTMEDIA)

The provincial Liberals are calling on the NDP to fix issues leading to increased wait times in Alberta’s emergency rooms.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan said data collected by the party through freedom of information requests show “systemic issues” and “mismanagement” of the health-care system are causing a shortage of available staff, ambulances and hospital beds.

Numbers from the Liberals show there were 35 ambulance “Code Reds” (where no ambulance is available for 911 calls) in Alberta every month of 2016, with Calgary and Edmonton suffering the most frequent ambulance shortages.

That’s an average of more than one Code Red in the province every day in every month in 2016. “It’s just unacceptable in our province, in our society, to have ambulances not available for 911 calls,” Khan said in Calgary on Tuesday. “We all expect in that type of emergency — when we’re calling 911 — there’s going to be an ambulance there.”

In the event of a Code Red, ambulances from outside the city are often called in to assist local crews and take on emergency calls.

The Liberals’ data showed paramedics spent more than 650,000 hours that same year waiting to transfer care of patients to hospital staff. EMS staff also clocked more than 135,000 hours of overtime, for an estimated $10 million in additional wages at the taxpayers’ expense.

In Alberta, EMS workers waited an average of one hour for patient handover to ER staff. Khan said that means pulling a two-person crew and their ambulance out of service until the patient is transferred.

Those same handover times in the U.K. are an average of 15 minutes, according to the Liberals.

Calgary MLA Dr. David Swann said Alberta emergency rooms are in “crisis,” and Khan challenged the province to improve ER handover efficiency by hiring additional “intermediate” triage workers and adopting new technologies to “streamline” the process.

“In the short term we need more community care after regular hours, as well as paramedics and intermediate ER health care providers . . . Long term, we need to expand the continuing and community care to free up bed spaces,” Khan said.

The Liberals also identified issues with EMS and ER patients experiencing long hallway wait times because beds are being used by patients who would benefit more from community care.

Swann said these patients, called “bed blockers” by some in the healthcare field, are an additional drain on the healthcare system.

He said improving and expanding the AHS community paramedic program by hiring more paramedics — and allowing EMS crews to decline patient transport in select cases — could cut down on bed blockers and wait times in Alberta hospitals.

But the NDP said they have already taken steps to address issues raised by Khan and the Liberals, including a commitment to create 2,000 beds for long-term dementia patients by 2019 and expanding the community paramedic program.

The Liberals conducted an anonymous survey of Alberta paramedics this summer, something Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said is “directing patient and frontline feedback away from established processes within AHS and toward their own political party.”

Swann said the survey results will be released on Thursday and show EMS workers are facing personal and professional issues due to staffing challenges. AHS said paramedics work overtime as a “last resort … to ensure patient care is not impacted.”

Albertans with concerns about EMS services can contact the AHS Patient Feedback line at 1-855-550-2555.

RRumbolt@postmedia.com (mailto:RRumbolt@postmedia.com)

On Twitter: @RCRumbolt (https://twitter.com/RCRumbolt)

Updated: October 2, 2018

C A L G A R Y H E R A L D


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann respond to Health Minister’s EMS Hotline Criticism

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan & MLA Dr. David Swann issue a response to Government criticism of their EMS Hotline.

Alberta Liberals set up the EMS Hotline with the best intentions for the benefit of all Albertans. The NDP Health Minister claims we are being irresponsible. We strongly disagree.

Khan stated, “In fact, we are being honest with Albertans by helping expose the issues plaguing EMS. We are giving frontline staff and patients a chance to confidentially express their experiences and concerns.

“We want more transparency and accountability at EMS. We want Albertans to receive safe, quality service and not have to listen to more partisan attacks and excuses from the NDP Government.”

Swann stated, “EMS union staff have told us they fear disciplinary action by their employer AHS for being whistleblowers. They are reluctant to express concerns through established AHS channels. They don’t want to suffer repercussions by talking about operational problems including slower EMS response times and extended waiting with patients in ER hallways. Alberta Liberals will protect the identity of frontline staff, patients and anyone else who uses the EMS Hotline. They can speak freely. We have their backs.

“We will use their data to help develop solutions—why would the NDP be upset about that?

“Clearly, problems still exist and after three three years in office this NDP Government has not resolved those problems.”

Red Alerts stats are no longer being released by AHS. There is less transparency by this NDP Government and therefore less accountability about EMS delayed response times, costly overtime wages and other concerns.

Alberta Liberals want to spur the release of more of that important information to all Albertans. Taxpayers deserve to know what problems continue in EMS so the system can be improved. We believe the Liberals’ EMS Hotline will help to achieve those goals.

Khan added, “We want to be part of the thoughtful solutions at EMS that will help all Albertans. We do not want to be part of the Government’s cover-up.

“Albertans deserve a high quality, efficient EMS system that puts patients first and safeguards frontline staff.”

David Swann and David Khan are available for interviews by phone or Skype.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA Dr David Swann launch EMS Hotline

Dr. David Swann and the Alberta Liberal Opposition have launched an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Hotline: 1-888-442-4664

The Hotline will give Albertans and EMS staff a chance to anonymously report concerns with the Provincial EMS system including delays in response times and hours waiting in ER hallways.

Swann and Khan exposed wasteful mismanagement within EMS earlier this year which delays EMS response times, impacts patient safety and increases staff overtime. EMS staff worked 135,000 hours overtime. That O.T. cost Alberta taxpayers around $12 million in extra wages in 2016.

AHS data showed that 2 member EMS crews spent 650,000 hours in one year waiting in emergency rooms to transfer patients to attending nurses. The median wait time in Alberta is nearly four times greater than the United Kingdom standard of 15 minutes.

Swann stated, “I believe the EMS Hotline will help us learn more about the crisis in our EMS system. Alberta Liberals will use this data to push for solutions and pressure the NDP Government to take urgent needed action.”

Khan stated, “The NDP announced $25 million more in spending for EMS in this year’s Budget. We still don’t know how this money is being spent or if it will address these issues.

“Alberta Liberals want immediate policy changes that will target excessive overtime hours and hallway wait times. Albertans deserve a better EMS system.”

In addition to the EMS Hotline, the Alberta Liberals are also issuing a survey to EMS workers to learn more about their workplace challenges and solutions.

Albertans can share their EMS concerns by calling the Hotline at 1-888-442-4664.Their identities and information will be protected. If they prefer to share their experiences in writing they can send an email in confidence to hotlineEMSalberta@gmail.com

Khan and Dr. Swann will host a News Conference at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, July 19, at the Calgary-Mountain View Constituency Office (#102, 723 – 14 Street NW, Calgary).

They will also be available for interviews by phone or Skype.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann blast NDP year-end financial results

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann issue release on the 2017-18 Alberta Government year-end financial results:

Khan stated, “Albertans continue to suffer through a jobless recovery while the NDP Government continues to ride the resource revenue roller coaster.

“Income tax revenue is $402 million short of the NDP’s own Budget projections. Albertans have to be working to pay income taxes. More Albertans are forced to be self-employed just to give themselves a pay cheque.”

Khan added, “Corporate tax income is $470 million lower than forecasted. Businesses are going bankrupt or moving away. NDP policies continue to drive investment away from this Province.

“The current $8 billion deficit has been reduced by a $1.9 billion increase in non-renewable resource revenue. Getting a lucky bounce in oil prices is not a financial plan.

“Albertans still have $8 billion reasons to be very unhappy with these financial results. The NDP are still riding the resource roller coaster. That ride will go off the rail if oil prices fall again.”

Swann stated, “Alberta Liberals would tackle this problem with pro-growth tax reform that would expand the economy and boost Government revenue to pay for social services. The NDP are mortgaging Albertans’ future and their children’s future with a current debt over $43 billion. The annual interest payments on that debt are $1.4 billion.

“Government spending is $400 million higher than last year and Albertans are not getting value for their money. Government spending isn’t going towards reducing class sizes. It’s not going towards boosting AISH payments. And the massive health budget isn’t reducing wait times.

“We don’t have to spend more. We have to spend more wisely. Albertans simply can’t afford this NDP Government.”


Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann calls for PChAD reform

Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann has issued the following release in response to today’s provincial Child and Youth Advocate’s report on the opioid deaths of 12 young children:

Swann stated, “This report makes it clear that our mental health and addictions care is fragmented. We are not adequately integrating families or Government agencies in the care process.

“The care we are providing is too crisis focused. We need to start investing resources in prevention and early intervention as recommended in the Valuing Mental Health Report.

“Most striking is the need to review and reform the Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act (PChAD). Young Albertans are placed in this program as a last resort. It is unclear what treatments they are given and what, if any, follow-up supports they are given.

“This is especially concerning given many patients make harmful connections at PChAD facilities that help facilitate their addiction issues. They need continued support after they leave PChAD facilities.

“I’m calling on the Justice Minister to launch a formal review of PChAD and report the results to all Albertans.

“The Progressive Conservatives created this mess with their antiquated views on addiction. The UCP made it worse by stigmatizing addictions. The NDP are failing to move quickly enough to reform the system..

“Now is the time for a comprehensive strategy that emphasizes early education, promotes prevention and fully integrates family, community, government and non-governmental services.”


Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann exposes wasteful mismanagement in EMS

Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann has revealed new information about wasteful mismanagement in EMS.

“A FOIP obtained by the Alberta Liberals shows that Alberta’s paramedics worked 135,000 hours of overtime in 2016. That equates to almost $10 million in extra wage costs.”

“The AHS and NDP Government need to hire more paramedics to reduce this unnecessary expense.” Swann told reporters today.

Swann says other systemic issues include EMS services not keeping pace with the needs of Albertans.

“AHS statistics show EMS events are up almost 19% over 5 years but there has only been a 2.9% increase in new ambulances and 3.4% increase in new full-time equivalent paramedics. Additionally, there were more than 63,000 extra EMS calls over the past 5 years. EMS is stretched to the limits trying to handle the needs of over 500,000 new Albertans.”

“The latest AHS data also indicates EMS staff wait a median time of nearly 1 hour when transferring a patient in ER to the attending nurses – equivalent to just over $20 million dollars a year in lost time.”

“Paramedics spend more than 650,000 hours in ER awaiting patient transfer to nursing staff.”

DR Swann is available for interviews by phone or on Skype.


Liberal MLA David Swann and Liberal Leader David Khan says EMS Union (HSAA) data shows systemic crisis

Liberal MLA David Swann says, “The NDP Government should immediately boost frontline resources for EMS across Alberta.”

“AHS statistics show EMS events are up almost 19% over 5 years but there has been only a 2.9% increase in new ambulances and 3.4% increase in new full-time equivalent paramedics.”

“EMS is struggling to meet day-to-day demands of Albertans and the situation is escalating.”

“The opioid crisis is only making the crisis worse and lives are at stake.”

“When ambulances cannot reach patients in a timely fashion the safety of those patients is put at risk.”

Liberal Leader David Khan says, “There are more than 63,000 extra EMS calls over the past 5 years and EMS is stretched to the limits to handle the needs of over 500,000 new Albertans.”

“The NDP Government must not only provide additional resources but improve the efficiency of the system with paramedics spending 650,000 hours per year in ER awaiting patient transfers to nursing staff.”

David Swann is available for interviews at 1:15 pm on the “INS” at the Alberta Legislature. He is also available by phone or Skype.

David Khan is available for interview by phone or Skype.

-30-

For more information, contact:

Keegan Wynychuk
Alberta Liberal Opposition
Tel: 780.644.7719
Cell: 780.919.3158
liberal.communications@assembly.ab.ca


Calgary Herald: NDP ‘will engage with Albertans’ to decide marijuana minimum age: Notley

With cannabis legalization coming down the pipe in 2017, Premier Rachel Notley said input from Albertans will help set the minimum age to purchase marijuana…

… The report said that cannabis use during adolescence may be associated with effects on brain development. Alberta Liberal leader Dr. David Swann said the marijuana minimum age should be 21 years old, citing the same health concerns as basis for his recommendation. Read Full Article…