Ambulance off-loading wait times non-existent in Petrolia, below average in Sarnia

Concerns about how long patients are waiting to be admitted to Bluewater Health from ambulances are easing.

Recently, the manager of Emergency Medical Services in Lambton County told Lambton County councilors that there are times when up to five ambulances will be waiting with patients at the doors for up to 40 minutes for a bed in the ER.

The problem stretches all the way back to the lack of long-term care beds. Bluewater Health’s emergency department in Sarnia becomes log jammed with patients because there are no vacant beds in the rest of the hospital. That happens because elderly patients stay in the hospital waiting for a long-term care bed.

But new statistics show the problem is not as bad as in some communities. In 2012, it took about 14 minutes and 20 seconds for a patient at Bluewater Health Sarnia to move from an ambulance to a bed. The provincial average is about 22 minutes.

At CEE Hospital in Petrolia, there is virtually no wait at all times with patients being wheeled out of the ambulance right into the ER.

“It’s just phenomenal,” says St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold. “You go to Petrolia and you’re out of the ambulance in less than a minute.”

Dawn Euphemia Mayor Bill Bilton agreed saying even the problems in Sarnia are not too bad. “We’re well below the provincial average.”

EMS officials say they continue to work with the Erie St. Clair LHIN and Bluewater Health to reduce waits even further.

– Heather Wright