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New triage system could speed wait times at regional hospital


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AMHERST – Officials with the Cumberland Health Authority are hoping to speed up wait times at the regional hospital by introducing a new triage system.

Beginning Tuesday, patients going to the emergency department at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre will notice changes in the way they are assessed and registered for treatment and care.

A new system, called nurse first triage, is being introduced and the CHA is optimistic the changes will ultimately help improve wait times. The system is being rolled out at regional hospitals across the province.

Cheryl Northcott, vice-president of patient care services, said the changes are patient-centred and focus on ensuring that those requiring immediate attention receive it as soon as possible.

“Presently when patients go to the emergency department they register first and then are assessed by a nurse. Based on their complaint and vital signs, they are assigned a triage score,” Northcott said. “That score is used to determine how quickly the person needs to be seen. The new system will see the assessment by a nurse and the triage score assigned before registration takes place which will aid in ensuring those patients who require immediate care receive it more quickly.”

Northcott said one of the goals of the new system is to help improve communication between the triage nurse, the rest of the emergency department team and the registration desk.

“We are confident these changes will improve patient flow, however the public also has an important role to play in helping this new process to work to full advantage,” she said.

Patients, she said, should always bring their health card when going to the ER. There may be cases when the nurse completing the triage score will be able to register the patient, but only if they have their health care with them.

Those who register for any health care service without bringing their health card, can expect a delay while their personal information is accessed through a detailed process.

Patients are also reminded to bring an up to date list of medications with them.

“Because any treatment or care you receive can be impacted by medications you are already taking, it is very important to bring an accurate list of medication or the actual bottles with you each time you access health care services,” Northcott said.

The ER at the regional hospitals sees more than 20,000 patients each year.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

 

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