KAMLOOPS — Royal Inland Hospital's emergency department is regularly over capacity, an issue that has become a strain since the department was not designed to see the sort of volume that it currently does.
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Despite hopes of a spring and summer slow-down, RIH Health Services Administrator Carol Laberge says it's still a constant struggle to find space for the patients the hospital sees every day.
"We've been sitting around on average about 120 per cent occupancy in the hospital over the past few months and visits in our Emergency Room have maintained between 190-200 per day," Laberge said. "We don't really know why that is and we're just working really hard to get people through the system."
In April the hospital implemented a new electronic medical records system in the ER hoping to improve efficiency.
"We're the only emergency room in Interior Health that has an electronic health record," Laberge said. "Our emergency physicians have embraced this, they've totally championed getting the electronic medical record off the ground, and the staff really like it."
The new technology hasn't helped the overcapacity issue, however, the opening of the new Clinical Services Building has opened up some opportunities.
Dr. Anders Ganstal, department head for the ER, says neurodiagnostics has moved into the new building, freeing up space that will eventually be used as a streaming area for mental health patients.
"This ... is a space that we're hoping to utilize to move our psych patients, our mental health patients, for better assessment, better treatment options outside of the (emergency) department, and we're very excited to have this happen as soon as possible, hopefully in the next month or two," said Ganstal.
The orthopedics clinic will also be relocating, opening up yet another space.
"We haven't exactly decided on how we're going to use it, but it's going to help us with easing the congested feel when we see patients in the Emergency Department and that is our goal," Ganstal said.
With more available space the hospital will also need more physicians.
"We'd like to have more physicians, sure," Ganstal said. "Kamloops would like to have more physicians. But I think we have a great team that we work with, and we do what we can with what we have, and we're in the process of hiring. You'll probably see some new faces come September, in fact. We've already hired a couple more so we're very excited about that."
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