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HomeNewsMuskoka Paramedic Services looking to cut down hospital transfer time

Muskoka Paramedic Services looking to cut down hospital transfer time

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The Muskoka Paramedic Services’ (MPS) Fit2Sit program will help get low acuity patients (patients dealing with less-severe injuries) into the hospital faster, and paramedics back into service quicker.

The program will allow paramedics, in coordination with hospital staff, to transfer low acuity patients directly to the waiting room. It will not affect how high acuity patients are cared for. 

The new strategy will start on Monday, April 25.

“The goal is to just turn the paramedics around a little bit quicker with the low equity patients we transport and therefore have [paramedics] back out in the community to respond to emergencies,” said Jeff McWilliam, the District of Muskoka’s Chief of Paramedic Services and Emergency Planning to the district’s Health Services Committee Thursday.

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“At the end of the day, the triage nurse has the final say whether the person goes in the waiting room or not,” McWilliam explained.

He said they were approached by Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, which operates Muskoka’s hospitals, to work with the Parry Sound Emergency Medical Services to get the new program started.

“Off-load delays are certainly challenging in many places across Ontario,” said McWilliam. “However, here in Muskoka, we’ve been pretty lucky and we don’t really experience a lot of offload delays.”

According to McWilliam’s report to committee, done with help from Norm Barrette, the district’s Commissioner of Health Services, the average off-load times at the South Muskoka District Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge and the Huntsville District Memorial Hospital have consistently been around 20 minutes between 2019 and the first three months of 2022. However, so far this year, off-load times are the highest they have been in that four-year stretch at 22 minutes.

It’s noted in the report that the province has established 30 minutes as the standard for transferring a patient.

McWilliam writes that while the average transfer time is below that number there are still a “significant number” of calls that see higher off-load times. He noted the Bracebridge hospital sees more patients off-loaded by MPS and has a “slightly” higher off-load time than Huntsville’s hospital.

He pointed out that other areas with higher off-load delays have implemented the Fit2Sit program successfully. Notably, Niagara, Hamilton, and London have seen off-load times reduced since starting the program.

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