Information about average wait times at Fraser Health’s emergency rooms is now available online, the health authority announced Tuesday.
Hospitals in the region were added to the list of facilities last week, and the move comes as physicians in multiple emergency departments have started to speak out about dire conditions that are putting patients at risk.
“We apologize if you are experiencing longer than usual wait times in our emergency departments. We are experiencing higher patient volumes right now coupled with hospitalist medicine and human resources challenges,” an update on the health authority’s website says.
“We are working to support our patients moving through the emergency departments in the safest and fastest way possible to reduce emergency department congestion.”
In neighboring Vancouver Coastal Health, information about wait times has been available online for over a decade.
Fraser Health, in a statement, says it saw a seven per cent increase in emergency department visits over the last fiscal year, compared to pre-pandemic figures. More than 2,000 people attend emergency rooms in the region each day.
“By providing information about wait times and expected length of stay, we hope to improve the experience for our patients and their families by reducing uncertainty and anxiety they may feel while waiting for care,” it says, noting that wait times can fluctuate suddenly and unexpectedly.
The online information, Fraser Health says, can be used as a tool to plan for how to access care – but anyone having a medical emergency is still urged to call 911 or to go to the nearest hospital immediately.