Prairie Post (East Edition)
HCAP: Faster access to emergency care and surgeries
Albertans are seeing ambulances arriving sooner and shorter wait times for surgeries and emergency care.
Alberta has the best front-line health care workers in the world, and Alberta’s government is putting the right supports in place for Albertans to get the care they need when and where they need it. Since rolling out the Health Care Action Plan (HCAP) in November, there have been improvements in all four priority areas.
Lowering EMS response time
Emergency response times have improved, and more ambulances are staying in their home communities.
This is a direct result of initiatives implemented throughout the province to improve EMS service. These include installing the 45-minute Canadian standard target for emergency department patient handover, using alternative methods for interfacility transfers when an ambulance is not needed, and handing over non-urgent calls from 911 to 811/Health Link where clinically appropriate.
Since implementation, response times have improved throughout the province, including:
• a 38 per cent improvement in Calgary
• a 25 per cent improvement in Edmonton
• an average 33 per cent improvement in smaller communities The frequency of red alerts is also coming down. So far in April, Edmonton has spent about 10 minutes in red alert compared with 295 minutes in November 2022. Calgary has spent about four minutes in red alert in April compared with 254 minutes last November.
Improving surgery wait time
With the changes implemented through the HCAP, fewer Albertans are waiting longer than clinically recommended for surgeries. Currently, there are 11,190 fewer patients waiting longer than clinically recommended compared with this time last year – an improvement of more than 25 per cent. AHS performed more than 292,000 surgeries in the 2022-23 fiscal year, resulting in fewer patients on the wait list and shorter wait times to get their surgeries completed.
Wait times for cancer patients are also improving. In the 2022-23 fiscal year, AHS completed about 22,100 cancer surgeries compared with about 20,040 pre-pandemic – a 10 per cent increase.
Reducing emergency wait times and improving patient flow Emergency department wait times are coming down and more Albertans are being transferred to the appropriate care settings faster. AHS placed more hospital patients into a continuing care living option within 30 days of no longer requiring hospital care in March compared with April 2022. AHS has opened about 1,250 new continuing care spaces in the last fiscal year and another 250 are expected to open before the end of June. The Bridge Healing Transitional Accommodation Program also provides care for people experiencing homelessness and helps improve patient flow while offering treatment and recovery supports.
These efforts, in turn, free up emergency department spaces as well as hospital beds and, most importantly, provide care in appropriate settings for complex clients. Empowering health care workers to deliver health care Alberta continues to hire more doctors, nurses, paramedics, nurse practitioners and other allied health professionals across the province. Approximately 1,100 more nursing staff have been hired by AHS since Jan. 1, 2022, including 85 per cent of all registered nurses who graduated in Alberta in 2022-2023. AHS also hired 457 new EMS staff members in 2022, including 341 paramedics.
As part of the phased rollout of the 45-minute patient handover target initiative, AHS has been hiring additional emergency department teams to improve patient flow. AHS is striving to become the employer of choice for health care professionals both locally and globally.
• About 292,500 surgeries were completed in 2022-23. That’s more than 5,600 Albertans accessing surgery every week.
• EMS response times are improving despite a sustained 30 per cent increase in call volume across the province. Since November 2022, EMS response times for the most urgent calls are faster.