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Wait times

Calgary first to post ‘live’ ER wait times information

CALGARY – Alberta Health Services is now showing real-time, estimated wait-times on its website for Calgary’s emergency departments and urgent care centres. This tool is designed to help Calgarians decide where to access care for themselves and their families.

“Through this initiative, patients and the public will have access to up-to-the-minute wait times and the same information the emergency departments and urgent care centres are using internally,” says Gene Zwozdesky, Minister of Alberta Health and Wellness. “It’s a great example of our commitment to improving access to emergency care for all Albertans.”

Improving access and reducing wait times are among the goals outlined in the 5-Year Health Action Plan, jointly developed by the Government of Alberta and AHS, and supported by the province’s stable, 5-year funding.

Estimated wait times will be provided for the emergency departments at Foothills Medical Centre, Peter Lougheed Centre, Rockyview General Hospital and Alberta Children’s Hospital, as well as for the urgent care centres at the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre and South Calgary Health Centre.

This information will be available on the AHS website – – and be listed as Calgary Emergency Wait Times on the home page.

“Our research tells us that we are the first healthcare organization in the country to provide real-time wait times online,” says Dr. Cheri Nijssen-Jordan (pictured), AHS Senior Medical Lead. “We want to ensure that we are providing the public with the most current information available.”

The times are calculated through a software system that uses current data from each facility to estimate how long it will take patients to be seen by a physician once they have been assessed by a triage nurse. Wait times do not represent the total time patients may spend at the hospital or urgent care centre.

“We know that emergency demand can change quickly and dramatically, without notice, so these times are estimates,” says Dr. Grant Innes, Regional Clinical Department Chief, Emergency Medicine, AHS. “But they are based on a number of very consistent factors, including how many patients are waiting to be seen, how sick they are, and how many resources we have available at a particular time to handle those patients.”

The wait times are being rolled out in Calgary as the first phase of a provincial initiative with a goal to expand the service to other communities in the province.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.7 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

Posted August 11, 2011