“We have ongoing issues in our emergency department and we’re experiencing the same sort of thing other districts are facing,” Cumberland Health Authority spokeswoman Ann Keddy said. “One of our complicating factors right now is a number of local nursing homes are experiencing an outbreak of influenza and other illnesses so they’re not taking any new residents.”
Earlier this week, Progressive Conservative health critic Chris d’Entremont expressed fears with several overcrowding at the Halifax Infirmary’s emergency department, adding he’s afraid someone is going to die because of long wait times.
Keddy said wait times are sometimes long at the Cumberland site, but the most acute cases are seen immediately. However, because there is no place to send patients awaiting placement in long-term care the shortage of available beds forces those waiting for a bed to stay for extended periods in the emergency department.
“We do our best to minimize having patients in beds in the hallways. We do our best to get them into beds as quickly as we can, but sometimes that’s not possible,” Keddy said. “Our situation ebbs and flows. There are some days when we have people waiting for beds and other days it’s much better. It’s very unpredictable.”
In Halifax, Dr. Sam Campbell, the head of the emergency department, said conditions there are far worse than those that prompted a code orange in 2009. He said an aging, ailing population and seasonal factors like the flu, are resulting in a 30 per cent increase in patients over the last two years.