Island Health: Nanaimo is sick

Last week, Island Health (VIHA) issued a statement to explain their campaign, ‘use your ED wisely’ to reduce the volume of people going to the Nanaimo Regional Hospital’s emergency department.

According to Island Health, an average of 200 people a day go to the Emergency Department at Nanaimo Hospital.

200 people a day or 73,000 per year is probably the entire number of patients the hospital admits; not just the bunch of people with their minor cuts and stomach aches that come and go from the emergency department, as VIHA claims.

Compare this to the ED at Vancouver Hospital, one of the busiest emergency rooms in the province. At their peak shift  from 2-11pm, there are about 50 patients in the emergency department. In 2013 VGH had 84,000 patients passed through the emergency department and were funnelled to various parts of the hospital.

The real cause of the problem is that the emergency department is the entry point for virtually all patients who require any type of care. According to the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) website, “Canadian hospitals gather few emergency department (ED) data, and most cannot track their case mix, care processes, utilization or outcomes.”

The gatekeeper system needs to be updated. Instead of slowing down the line of people to find out what insurance a patient has, there should be more emphasis on getting people the treatment they need.

It’s time for Terry Lake, Minister of Health, to look into these numbers and find a better admitting system.