2/2/12

EMS costs up and ambulances delayed. More to come?

The overload on hospital beds is catching up with Windsor/Essex Emergency Medical Services (ambulance services).

The Windsor Star reports that the time spent by EMS paramedics waiting in hospital emergency rooms has increased 350% since 2009, increasing from 2,653 hours in '09 to 9,557 hours in 2011.
EMS paramedics can't leave a patient at a hospital until the hospital takes over care, but sometimes hospitals are so backed up they have no room for new patients.

The dramatic increase in "off-load delays" has driven up EMS costs, the Star reports.

But, aside from driving a cost explosion, the off-load problems are also delaying EMS response time. "We have a limited amount of ambulances in the county," EMS Chief Randy Mellow told the Star. "There are times when we delay non-emergency calls sometimes up to an hour if we don't have an ambulance."

The off-load delays stem from a bed shortage in Windsor that spiked after a "public private partnership" (P3) long term care project failed, sparking a serious backlog in Windsor hospitals.

With hospital cuts planned by the provincial government, this may well get worse.

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