Hallway medicine may be a thing of the past. Fraser Health officials say their efforts to decongest local hospitals are working.

Hallway medicine may be a thing of the past. Fraser Health officials say their efforts to decongest local hospitals are working.

Fraser Health hospital congestion easing: report card

Too many patients still awaiting beds, but FHA officials say trend is improving, hallway medicine now over

Hospitals in the Fraser Health region have improved slightly from the spring on key indicators of congestion, but large numbers of incoming patients continue to wait too long to get a bed.

Fraser’s latest report card suggests that remains a persistent problem despite repeated initiatives to improve patient flow.

As of September, it shows just under 40 per cent of admitted patients got a bed within a 10-hour benchmark so far this year. That’s far below a target of 55 per cent, which is itself lower than more ambitious targets that had been set in previous years and subsequently discarded.

A 2012 congestion review warned hallway medicine was so rampant in Fraser that staff were resigned that the jammed conditions would remain “intractable.”

At that time, just 51 per cent of patients admitted through emergency were getting a bed within 10 hours.

The 39.8 per cent rate for 2015 is up from 35 per cent last May.

Just two hospitals – Burnaby and Fraser Canyon – are currently meeting the 55 per cent target for admission within 10 hours.

The majority of incoming patients wait longer than that at every other Fraser hospital.

And two thirds or more of the patients are waiting longer than 10 hours at Abbotsford Regional, Chilliwack General, Delta, Eagle Ridge, Ridge Meadows and Surrey Memorial hospitals.

In contrast, neighbouring Vancouver Coastal health authority reported it’s essentially meeting the same target with more than 54 per cent of its patients getting a bed within 10 hours.

From April to August, Fraser averaged 204 patients across its hospitals who’ve been admitted but not yet given a proper bed and are instead being treated in ERs, hallways, lounges or other non-acute care areas. That’s down from 222 in the spring, but still in excess of a target of 165 or less.

However, Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma said the latest data available shows a further drop in October to 199 and all of those patients are now in ER beds, not hallways.

Juma credited the improving trend to Fraser’s decision to use $5 million to hire more staff to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions, support weekend discharges and speed transfers from emergency to inpatient units.

“That investment that we had made earlier in the year is starting to pay off,” she said. “We are starting to see that number now come down and are effectively no longer using hallway beds to provide the care to the patients.”

Another bright spot in the report card is that the average length of stay in hospital is down to 8.2 days, within 10 per cent of the target of 7.8 days, also indicating improving patient flow through wards to residential care or home care.

But too many “long-stay patients” are still occupying hospital beds for more than 30 days.

And too many extra days that don’t need to be spent in hospital happen while patients that could be discharged wait for transfer to a care home or to home care or other specialized care with supports.

Fraser says it plans to open 34 new residential care beds soon to help improve that flow.

Juma predicted the ongoing work to add residential beds and improve community capacity “is also going to have impact as we start to move people out of the hospital into the places they need to be in the community and then out of those emergency beds into those inpatient beds.”

Overall, the eight out of 30 indicators on the report card are meeting target, 16 are within 10 per cent of targets, and six are well off-target and a priority for improvement.

Fraser is beating the provincial target for speedy repair of hip fractures.  And the rate of C. difficile antibiotic-resistant infections is now below the provincial target.

Hand hygiene is also strong with 88 per cent of staff washing correctly in audits, compared to an 80 per cent provincial target.

The two Lower Mainland health authorities both publish report cards but don’t report all the same indicators.

Vancouver Coastal has a target for keeping surgery wait times in excess of 52 weeks to no more than two per cent of cases, and its report card shows that was 1.1 per cent as of August.

Fraser does not report that statistic – Juma said it is redundant because the details are available on the province’s surgery wait times website.

She said the proportion of surgeries in Fraser waiting longer than 52 weeks was 2.4 per cent in 2014-15, down from 5.7 per cent in 2010-11.

The average wait time for surgeries in Fraser has declined from more than 14 weeks in 2010-11 to 11 weeks as of last year, while the number of surgeries performed increased about 2.4 per cent to 85,000 procedures.

FHA congestion indicators 2015Create your own infographics

Just Posted

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Most Read