KAWARTHA LAKES-It’s become a familiar sight across Ontario. Ambulances lined up, sitting at local hospitals waiting to offload patients.
This “Fit2Sit” Pilot Project began on June 2,2022 in an attempt to free up ambulance services and since then more than 400 patients at Ross Memorial Hospital have been deemed Fit2Sit.
The purpose of the Fit2Sit initiative was to identify patients arriving to the hospital by ambulance that could be safely moved to the waiting room. Since going live June 1, Fit2Sit has been used over 400 times, freeing up more than 200 hours of paramedic’s time that would have been spent waiting to “offload” their patient at the hospital.
“This partnership has been really well received and has allowed paramedics to return to the community and be available for emergency care sooner.” Sara Johnston, Deputy Chief, Kawartha Lakes Paramedic Service told Kawartha 411 News.
It is a partnership with Ross Memorial Hospital. Officials there say the number of patients who have been deemed Fit2Sit has been steadily rising since the Hospital first implemented the program in June.
“An average of two patients a day were qualifying in the first month of the program. That number had grown to three a day by August, and three-and-a-half by September,” said Jennifer Chipp-Smith, Emergency Department Manager, Ross Memorial Hospital. “This gradual increase can be attributed in large part to continued staff education and a growing familiarity with the program, along with continually working to identify areas for improvement. We are pleased with the success of the program in its early stages and the resulting time it has saved for paramedics serving our community.”
“Offload delays’ have been an increasing problem for ambulance services across the province.
In May, Kawartha 411 News reported on extensive delays locally. Offload delays happen when incoming patients cannot be transferred quickly from paramedics or police to staff in a hospital emergency department. This is typically due to emergency department congestion.
“There is currently a high volume of calls however CKL does have units available.” Mellow told Kawartha 411 News. “Offload delays are extensive in all area hospitals (PTBO, Lindsay, Cobourg) affecting all area services.”
Ross Memorial Hospital said they were operating over 100% capacity.
“We can confirm that there was an offload delay earlier today(Wednesday) due to a high number of patients requiring admission and hospital capacity being over 100 per cent. The delay has since been cleared.” Ryan Young, Communications Ross Memorial Hospital said.
In December 2021, we also reported on ambulance resources being stretched to the limit due to offload delays.
Darryl Wilton, president of the Ontario Paramedic Association, said in a recent interview with the Toronto Star that offload delays have gotten 12 times longer in the last year alone.
Wilton said the delays have reached a level he has never seen in his 25 years on the job and offload delays of one to two hours were previously considered extreme, now some patients and paramedics are waiting 10 to 15 hours, he said
“A patient could be picked up this afternoon and not be offloaded until sometime tomorrow morning, and that’s not unusual anymore,” he said. That means multiple paramedic crews may be caring for the same patient over several shifts, he added.
Other jurisdictions such as Brampton and Sault Ste Marie are using the Fit2Sit program with success.
“Other areas of the province that have implemented Fit2Sit or similar programs were really helpful in sharing resources and lessons learned when we were developing our local initiative. Other services have been interested in our experiences and it seems to be gaining momentum,” said Johnston.