How Yukon's hospitals maintain access to care when volume exceeds capacity
Last year, average occupancy at WGH was 96 per cent. This means that half the time we did not have a bed to meet the need. With that in mind, we are taking steps to ensure all patients continue to access and receive the safe excellent hospital care they need.
Finding the right space for you at WGH
When WGH is full, it might mean that incoming patients spend more time in the emergency department or a room/space that is not intended for longer stays. This is never ideal, but our staff are working hard to provide great care and move you to a more appropriate room when it becomes available. The hospital did create three ‘holding beds’ to provide a more private space for patients awaiting admission rather than spending more time in emergency. These are not formal hospital beds meant for longer stays, but the room does have what you need to provide a safer, more comfortable environment to begin the healing process. In both cases, patients awaiting admission are cared for with the necessary staff and equipment.
We are even looking for simple solutions to help. Various WGH departments came up with a collaborative plan to replace equipment carts with wall-mounted racks to hold protective masks, gloves and gowns used by health providers. This allows critical supplies to be easily accessible and reduces equipment in the hospital’s hallways, helping staff to work more efficiently and safely.
Using all hospital system beds and resources to full potential
Yukon is fortunate to have three modern, well-equipped hospitals. Each has a team of skilled and talented health providers. Because we need to provide acute care and hospital-based services to those who need it, when you come to hospital, you may be cared for at any one of these facilities and will receive exceptional care.
And, as a publicly funded organization that is accountable to provide a high level of care, we have an obligation to use all of our hospital beds and other resources to their fullest potential in order to ensure you get the care that you need.
This means, from time to time, some patients may be moved from Whitehorse to one of our community hospitals in Dawson City or Watson Lake. We identify patients who can be cared for in these communities based on standardized clinical criteria and discussion with the physician responsible for your care. We will also speak with you about your thoughts or concerns. Moving patients to another hospital bed in the territory allows us to use our resources in the best way possible, ensures you are well cared for at all times, and reduces capacity pressures. This allows people who need an acute care bed or service only available in Whitehorse to receive this care in a more timely and safe manner.
We acknowledge this move within Yukon’s hospital system and to a facility outside of Whitehorse can be stressful and difficult for many patients and families. The transfer is only for a temporary period of time, patients are returned to Whitehorse, and is only done if it is safe and appropriate. We do our best to consider all circumstances and provide information to make the transfer easier.
Working with our partners
One of the reasons we are experiencing overcapacity at WGH is because some of our patients are waiting for care in another facility such as long-term care. While they are not acutely sick and do not require a hospital service, they may not be able tothrive without additional supports.
WGH and Yukon’s Department of Health and Social Services have been working together to look at how best to help these individuals, who are often frail and elderly, and develop ways to ensure they receive the appropriate care. Home Care has increased capacity to help some WGH patients return home, with additional supports and services such as overnight care.
Working with partners such as Home Care, we are also looking at ways to ensure they have the right care and services in place without being admitted to hospital when hospital care is not required
Improving discharge planning
We are also working with our partners to review and improve the way we discharge patients from hospital. Discharge is a process we undertake from the moment you are admitted to the hospital, so that our team understands what your health needs are and can put the right supports in place for you to safely return home or move to another facility.
Moving from hospital to either continuing care or home care in a timely, safe and compassionate way can be a complex process. It requires a detailed plan with input from multiple providers (physicians, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists and others), to ensure your well-being and prevent unnecessary readmission to hospital.
This approach is also helping to forge stronger collaboration within the health system and the communities we serve.