Flu season: ER wait times rising across Canada

Flu season: ER wait times rising across Canada

Across Canada, emergency departments and hospitals are packed, with healthcare workers often treating patients in hallways and seeing unprecedented increases in illness.

Experts describe this season as “multidemic” as cases of influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) combine, stretching thin hospital staff.

“In 22 years on the job, this is probably the most challenging time we’ve ever had,” Dr. Rod Lim, of Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, told CTV’s Your Morning Thursday. “We’re definitely seeing so much activity, our emergency department is probably seeing 80 percent more patients than we’ve traditionally seen this time of year.”

Lim says that at the hospital staff are “running around” trying to find care spaces and often treating people in hallways. in a Press release from London Health Sciences dated November 9, the wait time in the emergency department exceeded 20 hours for non-urgent care.

Experts believe that the main reason for the increase in hospital visits is due to viral infections circulating in communities.

“This is the first year since the pandemic began that we’re heading into a normal flu season,” Dr. Rose Zacharias, president of the Ontario Medical Association, told CTV’s Your Morning Thursday. “Along with the COVID-19 virus still circulating and RSV, which is another common childhood virus showing up this time of year, we’re seeing increased stress and emergency departments and healthcare teams are still dealing with to exhaustion.”

In such chaos, staff struggle to provide the best care for all patients across the country. Lim says health workers are doing their best.

“At the end of the day, that’s our passion, that’s what we’re going to do, if that ends up in the middle of a room, then it’s going to be in the middle of a room,” he said.

A report from the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario found nurses across the country who struggled with mental health during the pandemic. According to the study, 75.3 per cent of Canadian nurses were burned out, exhausted and disengaged in recent years, which the report says has to do with increased stressful workloads, understaffing and less time to relax.

“A significant majority of respondents (57.9 percent) reported that their organizations resorted to limiting staff vacation time to manage workplace demand,” the study reads.

He also sees an increase in nursing job openings, showing that many have left the profession altogether.

“We’re really in a multi-year challenge in terms of trying to reinvigorate and replenish a lot of the amazing nurses,” Lim said. “We need to have very serious conversations about how we recruit, respect (and) treat healthcare workers who have given their heart and soul to the pandemic, and who really haven’t had that return to normalcy that so many others have. people have enjoyed. in recent months.”

Experts are urging people to protect yourself of ending up in hospitals getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza, and maintaining good hand hygiene and wearing masks when necessary.

“When we avoid getting that sick, even if we do get the virus, land in a hospital or emergency department, or pass the virus on to someone else, we will ease the tension within the hospital,” Zacharias said.

The spread of RSV combined with the lack of Children’s Tylenol on pharmacy shelves worries many parents of young children. This surge has caused many to flock to emergency departments, where Zacharias urges people to be patient.

“Our resources are limited right now, so they’re doing everything they can,” he said. “We know that parents are concerned and so being aware of that will do us all good.”

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