Monday, April 05, 2010

Want to reduce hospital wait times? Hire more clerical support! Soon!!

Eastern Health is apparently making some headway with hiring nurses, that's great! Now please focus on hiring more secretarial help! There are long wait times and delays in large part because doctors do not have adequate and in some cases, any office help. This is truly a ridiculous and unacceptable situation.

This is not opinion, this is fact! Eastern Health, at least, can reduce wait times by simply hiring more secretaries. Imagine this: a doctor is on the 5th floor of the Health Sciences Centre, and while attending to immediate patients, is also thinking of distance patients who require urgent treatment advice. The doctor cannot give an immediate treatment regimen because the patients' records are down several levels of the health science complex, and there is no one to communicate patient records to the doctor. So to get the latest record of patients from some other part of Newfoundland and Labrador, the physician has to take the elevator down several flights, walk through corridors to reach their office. Then, they will have to dig out the files (or order them from another part of the hospital), maybe do some faxing, phoning, researching, or emailing, and then repeat for any number of other patients who are out of town. Meanwhile, seriously ill patients up on the floors are wondering where the doctor is.

This Is the present situation, and it is dangerous for patients and doctors. They often are responsible for 100s of patients from across the province, but then to not have adequate clerical help on top of that will take valuable time and energy away from important patient care. As well, doctors may not be able to take extra patients because they cannot adequately treat them, due to the extra demands on their time.

Eastern Health really needs to address this issue. There is a high turnover rate in clerical positions, and they also need to put in place plans to more efficiently replace workers who once in a new position, need to take maternity leave. We hear about nursing and other health worker shortages, but the problem with office help is also critically important. If it is not addressed it will lead to more stress on doctors, health care professionals, and patients. If the clerical support shortage is addressed, then there is a better chance of timely patient care.

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