Paramedic Time Spent Waiting with Patients Increasing; Government Called for Action

The amount of time that paramedics are spending waiting with patients in hospital emergency rooms has increased from 1 hours and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 22 minutes since 2009. This has raised concerns among the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) union as well as emergency room staff, who have expressed concern over where they are to treat everyone.

“By sitting in a waiting room with patients, [paramedics] are not able to provide the essential services that Albertans want and deserve”, said the union’s President, Elisabeth Ballermann.

Emergency staff report serious shortages in capacity. The union is calling on the Provincial Government to intervene. The HSAA has complained that the Government has left the hospitals to run on “ill-conceived, Band-Aid approaches to emergency health care”.

On the defensive, Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky referred to previous announcements that the province had made regarding plans to open up more beds in Edmonton. He is asking people to have more faith in the Government’s efforts.

Mr. Zwozdesky said: “It will take a little bit of time and I think people should have hope that today the system is better than yesterday and the day before”.

Nevertheless, unease continues to grow in the health sector. Dr. Layton Burkart of the Alberta Medical Association simply stated that it is up to the Government to find a solution, and soon: “It’s not our job. It’s our job to treat patients”.