Summer brings more patients to emergency room

  • May. 28, 2008 11:00 a.m.

The Masset Hospital’s emergency room is significantly busier in summer than in winter, site manager Kim Mushynsky told the village council Monday night (May 26). Last summer, the emergency room handled an average of just over seven patients every 24 hours, Ms Mushynsky said, compared to an average of 5.7 during the winter months. She said she wasn’t sure exactly why there tend to be more patients in the summer, but suggested it might have something to do with the influx of tourists and fishing lodge clients during the warmer months. The emergency room was also busier in the 2007-08 year than it was the year before, Ms Mushynsky said, with the total number of visits up by 6 percent to 2,245. During the past year ending March 31, 2008, the hospital had 2,518 patient-days, with all four long-term care beds filled the entire time and the four acute beds filled about 75 percent of the time. But she said that demand for the acute care beds fluctuates wildly, she said, with only one patient for one night during one week-long period, and up to six patients during some other periods. The occupancy rate puts Masset in the top 20 percent of hospitals in the northern region, she said. The Masset hospital is rated by the provincial government for four acute care beds and four long-term care beds, but there are more beds available. Physically, there are beds available for 10 patients and two more beds in the emergency room bays, she said, a total of 12. The new hospital will be able to house 11 patients in regular beds with four more beds in the emergency room, she said, for a total of 15. It will still be “rated” for eight beds as far as staffing levels go, she said. Mayor Barry Pages asked if there are Masset-area residents living in long-term care beds elsewhere because the four beds in the Masset hospital are full. Ms Mushynsky said she wasn’t sure but she would see if there was any information available about that. There is no one currently on the waiting list for a long-term care bed, she said. Ms Mushynsky also reported on staffing at the hospital. There are ongoing nursing shortages, she said, but they have just hired a new public health nurse who will start work in Masset in mid-June. As well, two nurse-practitioners visited Masset last week with a view to possibly settling here, she said, and have been talking to Northern Health about what their role could be in the community. One big benefit about the couple is that they come from the Aleutian Islands so they don’t see Masset as being at all remote and have no problem with the wind, Ms Mushynsky said, unlike some other workers who move here from larger places. In the lab, Northern Health has arranged locum coverage until mid-October, and Ms Mushynsky said she has been contacted by three lab workers from three different health authorities who all want to work in Masset for regular chunks of time. She is just trying to arrange a schedule and figure out the paperwork for this to happen. Meanwhile, the new hospital looks likely to open in September, she said. The flooring is now 60 percent done and some sub-trades will now be able to get into the building and do their work. No name has been chosen for the new facility yet. Ms Mushynsky said some groups and individuals have come forward with new name suggestions, and there are now four names under consideration. A local committee will meet on June 3 to come up with a recommendation for Northern Health. The name must ultimately be approved by the Ministry of Health.

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