Lim­it­ing the wait­ing

Sono­g­ra­phers brought from off-Is­land to deal with back­log for ul­tra­sounds.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - dstew­art@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/DveSte­wart

We iden­ti­fied that we had some pretty un­ac­cept­able wait times in our sys­tem. The (wait­ing) list will be elim­i­nated as of late fall. Our fo­cus will be on ur­gent and semi-ur­gent (cases).

Health Min­is­ter Doug Cur­rie

Is­lan­ders who have been wait­ing in some cases months for an ul­tra­sound will soon be taken care of.

Ad­di­tional sono­g­ra­phers are be­ing brought in from out-of-province to deal with the grow­ing back­log.

Op­po­si­tion MLA James Ayl­ward said there is a back­log of 2,000 pa­tients wait­ing, some of whom have been wait­ing 32 weeks. He spec­u­lated that it would take two years to clear up the back­log.

Health Min­is­ter Doug Cur­rie dis­missed that spec­u­la­tion in the P.E.I. leg­is­la­ture re­cently, say­ing his depart­ment ex­pects to re­turn to tar­geted wait times by Novem­ber.

Those tar­gets are two weeks for ur­gent cases, four weeks for semi-ur­gent cases and 12 weeks for non-ur­gent pa­tients. Some ul­tra­sound ap­point­ments in Au­gust and Septem­ber will be sched­uled dur­ing the evenings and on Satur­days and Sun­days.

A re­turn-in-ser­vice sono­g­ra­pher be­gan work­ing at the Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal in June while another sono­g­ra­pher will be mov­ing to the Is­land from Hal­i­fax and will start work­ing Aug. 24. A sec­ond re­turn-in­ser­vice sono­g­ra­pher will be­gin in early Novem­ber, mean­ing that all three per­ma­nent po­si­tions will be filled.

In ad­di­tion, a sono­g­ra­pher will be re­turn­ing from ma­ter­nity leave in De­cem­ber while another one will be back from ma­ter­nity leave in Fe­bru­ary.

“We iden­ti­fied that we had some pretty un­ac­cept­able wait times in our sys­tem,'' Cur­rie told The Guardian. “The (wait­ing) list will be elim­i­nated as of late fall. Our fo­cus will be on ur­gent and semi-ur­gent (cases).''

Cur­rie said this will bring the province close to full strength with 9.3 sono­g­ra­phers, more staff than they had last year. In the mean­time, help is com­ing from out of province.

“This will al­low us to add two tem­po­rary sono­g­ra­phers, one at the QEH and one at the (Prince County Hos­pi­tal) for the sum­mer months.''

Pri­or­ity pa­tients in­clude emer­gency, ur­gent, in­pa­tient, breast and ob­stet­ri­cal cases.

Cur­rie said a sono­g­ra­pher short­age across the coun­try was another chal­lenge.

All pa­tients wait­ing for an ul­tra­sound will be con­tacted shortly by Health P.E.I. and booked for an ap­point­ment.

GUARDIAN PHOTO BY HEATHER TAWEEL

Sharon Dzelme sono­g­ra­pher at the QEH demon­strates how an ul­tra­sound works.

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