On Tuesday, Hamilton was in a code zero for more than 5 hours, that means paramedics are tied up with patients at hospitals and can’t respond to any more calls. Several out of town ambulances were brought in to help including from Niagara, which happens regularly. 32 times this month paramedics have been so backlogged there wasn’t an available ambulance on the road.
“When I hear people talk about this being a normal situation it’s not normal it doesn’t happen and it shouldn’t be happening. We shouldn’t be having patients on our stretchers from longer than 2 hours.” Chief Michael Sanderson, Hamilton Paramedics.
Local hospitals are saying they’re seeing more patients in their ER’s and they don’t have room for them.
“We have been over capacity over the last year, we are at 113% capacity.” Donna Johnson, St. Joe’s emergency services.
Hamilton General was at 118% capacity Tuesday and have been consistently over 100% since 2016.
St. Joseph’s hospital sees about 40 paramedic visits to the emergency department each day but over the last few months that number has jumped to about 60. 20 more patients arriving by ambulance a day, putting stress on an already stressed system.
The Health Minister admits Hamilton hospitals are facing challenges. The province is adding some additional beds but it still isn’t enough. Both hospital staff and paramedics saying something needs to be done and are stressing that people need to know when to call an ambulance and that ER’s are for emergencies.
The Health Minister blamed flu season as being part of the problem but paramedics say that’s not their major challenge, they had code zero events last year when it wasn’t flu season.