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Feb 04
Call to action to address overcapacity

With the ongoing overcapacity issues in Saskatoon Health Region, Saskatoon Health Region is launching a Region-wide, employee-inspired, two week patient flow improvement initiative: The Better Every Day 14-Day Challenge.
Better Every Day imageDemand for hospital care has been growing with a 5 per cent increase in emergency room visits year over year. In December, a further 5 per cent increase in emergency room visits stretched resources to a breaking point.

"Staff has made it clear in my meetings with them that they are exhausted and significant changes must happen to better manage demand for hospital care." says Dan Florizone President and CEO, Saskatoon Health Region. "It is not acceptable to have patients in hallways or temporary pods or waiting in emergency for a room and we need to make changes now."

The challenge began Tuesday. Each vice-president is working with a team using Lean tools to help develop and test ideas that will lead to sustainable strategies for our patients, clients, families, staff and physicians. Those teams are comprised of directors, managers, physicians, staff, patients and family advisors. 

Meetings have been held with union representatives inviting them to be part of this work. The goal is to eliminate hallway medicine, close all temporary pods and not have anyone waiting in emergency for a bed to open in the hospital. Work is also being done to predict when surges will occur so the right number of beds and staff are available. 

Lean methodology has been used in different areas of health care to improve how we provide services, but this is the first time a project of this magnitude has been undertaken to bring all of those pieces of improvement work and data together to affect a system-wide change. The results of this initiative will be applied to all Saskatoon Health Region facilities. 

To ensure everyone can focus on this Region-wide priority, we will be delaying or stopping some activities over the next two weeks.

For this week only, our surgical teams have postponed surgeries not cancer-related or emergency to help ease the need for hospital beds. The surgery postponements are only at Royal University Hospital and St. Paul's Hospital. Scheduled surgeries at Saskatoon City Hospital are proceeding as planned.

As well, all those whose surgeries were affected have been contacted. If surgery is scheduled and you have not been contacted, it is proceeding as planned. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

"We could declare an emergency and solve this for the short term," says Florizone. "But in a few months, we will find ourselves in this same situation. We have the tools, data and expertise to make a difference. It's time to put that into action and do something different. The status quo is not an option."

A new website has been created and will be updated by noon everyday so that physicians, staff, media and the public can monitor how the teams are progressing. The website can be accessed at

Watch the media scrum here.





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