An early flu season contributed to a 15-minute increase in ER's waiting time last month, says WRHA

Patients had an average of 15 minutes longer care than last month at the Winnipeg spa last month.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority published figures showing the mean wait time at all ERs in December was an hour and 45 minutes. That compares to an hour and a half waiting in November.

Krista Williams, head of the WRHA health care officer, said there were several factors that led to higher waiting times last month.

"The flu, introduced at the beginning of this year, knew that the flu had an impact, not as important as the previous years," she said.

The winter season also contributed to longer waiting times, Williams said, with a slip and fall accident caused by ice corridors and seasonal respiratory diseases, which filled the beds in emergency departments and intensive care units.

The CT computer was out of service at Grace Hospital five days in December, and Williams said ER patients could experience longer waiting times for people who come to high meth.

Changes and consolidations throughout the health system also shifted waiting times, for example in Concordia, where the capacity in the surgical unit had to be temporarily reduced when switching from another hospital. The Health Authority is working to minimize these types of disturbances that have persisted for a short-term occurrence.

"We are making some of the biggest changes we have ever made in our system and we know that this process will have temporary impacts," Williams said.

The president of the Manitoba Nurses Association said he was disappointed that the wait time for the emergency service is rising again.

Waiting times have been higher since WRHA implemented Phase 1 of its consolidation plan more than a year ago, Darlene Jackson said in a statement released Thursday by the media.

Jackson says these changes lead to inadequate staffing, shutting down beds at ICUs and increasing workloads and overtime, which, in his view, undermine patient care.

"It is unsustainable and undermines the quality of care for patients. It is not desirable to ask nurses and other professionals at the front to clean up the mess that this government has created," Jackson said.

Williams said that it is essential that this province completes Phase 2 of its health care plan to make the expected benefits fully realized.

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