SBGHC considers installing wait time clocks for it’s emergency departments

(Photo by Jordan MacKinnon for BlackburnNews.com)

The South Bruce Grey Health Centre is planning on making wait times for its emergency rooms available to the public in real time.

Interim President and CEO Michael Barrett said they are looking at software to track emergency room wait times, which would then be displayed at the entrance to each of their four hospital sites, as well as on the corporate website.

The software provides patients with information they can use to decide if they want to wait or not.

“Several hospitals across the province that have this, and the information is updated on a real-time basis, so you can see the number patients are actually in being seen right now, the number of patients in the waiting room, and the actual wait time to see a physician,” said Barrett.

While it works well in urban hospitals, Barrett explained there are concerns from staff and doctors about how quickly wait times can fluctuate in a rural hospital.

“In small communities, you have very few staff on the overnight periods in some of our smaller sites,” said Barrett. “If they get one serious emergency, that can consume the staff for a considerable amount of time, which would distort the wait time as it’s displayed on the website.”

Barrett said they have not set a date to begin using the software, as they need to make sure information is complete, including explaining which services are available at each of their sites, and that there could be a delay in accessing those services, depending on the time of day and patient volumes.

Barrett stressed in an urgent emergency, patients should always dial 911, rather than worry about wait-times.