SUMMERSIDE – Tuesday was a busier day than normal at Prince County Hospital and for a brief period of time, the facility went on its diversion program.
Diversion occurs when the hospital cannot take any more patients; it will then divert patients to other facilities.
PCH executive director Arlene Gallant-Bernard said no patients had to be diverted over the period.
“It was about three hours. It’s highly unusual that Prince County Hospital would go on diversion, so, it’s not a normal thing for us,” she said. “But in the event the volume of work and the capacity of what’s coming through the doors in emergency gets back then it becomes an issue where we don’t want people waiting too long.
“On that particular day we had 11 patients who were admitted and being held in the emergency department because we had no beds.”
Gallant-Bernard said the hospital does have a means to hold a certain amount of patients while awaiting beds, but 11 was getting close to the limit.
“It gives us time to process patients and get them into a proper bed on the unit,” she said. “We had to cancel one of our same day surgeries. We try not to.”
The emergency room physician makes the decision where the patient should go.
“Most times if a patient is an emergency they would come directly to this hospital regardless. If there are other ambulances with patients that could be seen at another hospital, Western Hospital, Kings County Memorial or the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, then they would be redirected there.”
Gallant-Bernard said the hospital has a diversion policy and there are strict criteria about what patients cannot be diverted, chest pain, respiratory distress, children in severe situations, a mother that’s in labour are among there areas that cannot be diverted.
“We try minimize risk as much as possible,” she said. “If you come to our door with an emergency you’re processed through. If you come and are not an emergency, but you have a need, we triage, do an assessment, and then we give them the choice. Sometimes it means that they have to wait longer and we tell them that. Then we reassess them because their condition could worsen.”