Saskatchewan emergency rooms are busy and overloaded, according to the provincial chief of emergency medicine.
The situation adds another level of stress for doctors, Dr. James Stempien said.
“When you’re examining someone in the back lane, you can’t do it (with) the same level of expertise that you could in a properly laid-out stretcher,” Stempien told Global News.
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Stempien said ERs have returned to pre-pandemic levels, and more.
“Our upstairs wards are full, so because of this, we cannot transfer admitted patients from the emergency department to the upstairs wards.”
The most recent government data available shows the rate of emergency room visits for patients with COVID-like symptoms is increasing, up 10.5% from the previous week.
At one point Saturday afternoon, 26 people in Saskatoon were “admitted without a bed.”
“They’re supposed to be upstairs in one of the rooms, but there’s no bed to go to. So they’re going to spend time in the emergency room until there’s a free spot for them upstairs,” Sempien said.
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To add to the problem, Sempien said, there are fewer staff to help.
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“Over the last six months to a year, we have lost a lot of senior nursing staff because many of them have moved on (due) to the continued stress of working in the emergency departments, due to COVID and… ‘other issues’, Sempien said
Saskatchewan NDP Health Critic Matt Love questioned the Minister of Health on the issue this week.
“Will the Minister finally admit that our system is wrong and provide support today for our overstretched healthcare workers,” Love said.
“We have created an intensive care capacity, a 21 million injection and high acuity. We have our urgent care center – the announcement just a week and a half ago,” Merriman replied.
Stempien says there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but said masking and COVID-aware behavior would reduce virus transmission and reduce numbers.
He also stressed that the emergency room is always open and ready to help, even if the help takes place in a hallway.
“Emergencies never close. We are always accepting more patients, no matter who comes in, especially if they are very sick, we will always make room for them,” Stempien said.
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He added that emergency personnel were doing their best to handle the situation.
“The fact that people are waiting in the waiting room – that we are looking at people in the back hallway, it shows how hard we are working to try to get people to see and that we are faced with a situation that is out. out of our control,” Stempien said.
– with files from Kelly Skjerven of Global News
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