A delegation from the County of Essex met recently with Ontario Minister of Health Sylvia Jones to discuss measures to help address systemic issues leading to ambulance offload delays in Windsor-Essex.
The delegation from the County of Essex included Warden Hilda MacDonald, Chief Administrative Officer Sandra Zwiers and Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter. They met with Jones and Dr. Catherine Zahn, Deputy Minister of Health, at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in London. They discussed the situation in Windsor-Essex and three measures that could help to alleviate systemic pressures locally:
1) Increased Funding for Primary and Urgent Care Clinics with Expanded Hours: Windsor-Essex has an extraordinarily high percentage – the highest in Ontario – of patients who arrive by ambulance at emergency rooms. The provincial average for June was 18 per cent and the average for each of our three hospitals was 38 per cent, 31 per cent and 23 per cent.
2) Increased Funding for Physician Recruitment: More than 32,000 people in Windsor-Essex are without a family doctor and nearly 50 per cent of those people live in neighbourhoods with the lowest average incomes. More family doctors would help reduce the volume of 911 calls and improve local health care.
3) Place a Patient Navigator in the Central Ambulance Communications Centre: The first two measures would help reduce 911 calls and a Patient Navigator would help divert low acuity calls from emergency rooms. A pilot project in the Niagara region has proved successful and would likewise prove effective in Windsor-Essex, which has a proven track record of embracing innovative solutions.
In a report to Council, Zwiers praised Jones for being “highly engaged and knowledgeable” about the issues facing Essex-Windsor EMS and said the minister “committed to continuing to work together with the County of Essex to resolve systemic issues facing our healthcare system.”