Limiting the waiting
Sonographers brought from off-Island to deal with backlog for ultrasounds.
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.
Sharon Dzelme sonographer at the QEH demonstrates how an ultrasound works.