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Emergency room wait times in Grande Prairie skyrocket under PC government

GRANDE PRAIRIE, AB (February 4, 2014): A Freedom of Information request (FOIP) filed and obtained by the Wildrose Official Opposition reveals that emergency room (ER) wait times in Grande Prairie have dramatically increased in the last three years because of PC mismanagement and the centralization of Alberta’s health care system.

 In the first two quarters of 2010, 67% of patients at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital were admitted within the eight-hour wait time benchmark as set out by Alberta Health Services (AHS). According to the documents, that number has plummeted steadily every since to the point that only 45% of patients were admitted in the third quarter of 2012/2013.

Patients admitted within eight-hour benchmark in Grande Prairie:

• 2010/11 Q1/Q2: 65%  •2010/11 Q3/Q4: 61%  •2011/12 Q1/Q2: 56%

•2011/12 Q3/Q4: 49%  •2012/13 Q1/Q2: 48%  •2012/13 Q3:45%

The Canadian Wait-Time Alliance benchmark for emergency room patient admittance within eight hours is 90%. “Alberta taxpayers continue to pay more and more for health care and keep getting worse results and Grande Prairie is a prime example,” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said.  “Wait times in Grande Prairie are spiraling out of control despite record levels of health care spending. The Wildrose believes that the people of Grande Prairie and northwestern Alberta deserve a health care system that puts patients first and that means addressing the looming wait-time crisis the region.” The data also shows that annual emergency room visits have also been on a steep incline. In 2009/10, the QEII Hospital recorded just over 49,000 visits. That has risen steadily every year to over 60,000 in 2012/13. Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth says this data shows Grande Prairie is not equipped to meet growing needs of its population. “This is a sign of a broken health care system that is being held together by the tremendous efforts of our front-line health care workers,” Forsyth said. “The giant AHS bureaucracy continues to grow while patients in places like Grande Prairie are left waiting longer and longer for the care they need.” The new Grande Prairie regional hospital – first promised in 2007 by former Premier Ed Stelmach – won’t be operational until 2017 at the earliest, Wildrose Seniors Critic Kerry Towle notes. That leaves a substantial gap during which time this problem must be addressed, she said. “This government is notorious for missing targets, so it’s anybody’s guess when this new facility will actually open,” Towle said. “In the mean time, the PC government has got to fix the mess they have created in the emergency room. These wait times are unacceptable and are putting Grande Prairie patients at risk.”