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ER wait times at Montfort Hospital exceed 20 hours this week


The longest wait time to see a physician at the Montfort Hospital in Ottawa's east-end exceeded 20 hours on Dec. 12.

The hospital, which posts emergency wait times on its website, has experienced higher than usual wait times as ER's across the province see higher admissions because of increased transmission of COVID-19 and respiratory illnesses in the community.

The website showed wait times for a full assessment by a doctor to be above 20 hours on Tuesday afternoon. The wait improved throughout the day, but remained between 16 and 18 hours on Wednesday morning, but climbed above 20 hours again by Wednesday evening.

Hospital CEO Dominic Giroux says the wait time listed on the website does not tell the full picture.

"It is the complete examination by the physician during which a treatment plan is made the results are previously made, test are given and more tests are ordered," he explained.

For some patients, the wait times are causing frustration and stress.

"The important thing is us to have medical attention when we need it, not almost a day after," said Lucie Dueuis, who had been waiting with her ill mother at the hospital for over 10 hours on Tuesday and had not yet seen a doctor.

"I'm sure I'll be here for almost 24 hours, it's difficult."

Giroux said the Montfort Hospital said they are seeing a seasonal increase in emergency department visits because of COVID-19 and influenza-related admissions.

"It is a big longer than we are used to seeing. It’s also flu season. Today we have 13 patients admitted to Montfort with COVID-19, we have six who have influenza and our occupation rate in medicine units, which comprise most of our hospital beds, is 117 per cent," he said.

Those entering the ER are triaged and receive an initial physician assessment prior to a full visit.

"Wait times in the emergency department can greatly vary depending on the severity and number of patients that come in. While it is rather uncommon to see wait times of 20 hours, it does occur from time to time," said an emailed statement by Montfort Hospital spokesperson Martin Sauvé. "Relative to other emergency departments in Ottawa, the average wait times are better at Montfort for an initial physician assessment and for patients admitted and requiring a bed."

The hospital is reminding the community that they can help reduce the spread of illnesses by staying up to date on vaccines, staying home when sick, washing hands often and covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

The latest statistics by Health Quality Ontario for wait times in October showed an average wait time of 2.4 hours for an initial assessment at the Montfort Hospital.

In comparison, The Ottawa Hospital General Campus reported a wait time of 4.3 hours to see a doctor in October, the longest ER wait time in Ontario. The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) reported an average wait of four hours to see a doctor, the 4th longest wait in the province.

On early Wednesday morning, CHEO wait times for those waiting for an initial assessment were around two hours.

The average wait time for a first assessment by a doctor in the emergency department was two hours at all Ontario hospitals.

Many hospitals in the Ottawa region do not post up-to-date emergency room wait times on their website, including The Ottawa Hospital (TOH).

In a statement, TOH said they are experiencing high patient volumes as the winter months often pose challenges for hospitals with the respiratory virus season in full swing.

"It’s difficult to provide an average as the wait times do vary based on acuity," read an emailed statement by TOH.

"Wait times vary at TOH. Patients who come to the emergency department are triaged based on the severity of their illness or injury. Those with the most severe conditions will be seen as quickly as possible, while patients with less severe conditions may experience longer wait times."

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Shaun Vardon and Katelyn Wilson. Top Stories

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