by Mary Wilson Trider
Last week was Emergency Room Nurses Week—an opportunity to recognize the work done by the skilled nursing staff who are the face of Almonte General Hospital for the nearly 16,000 people who visited our Emergency Department between April 2011 and March 2012.
More than 7,800 people have been treated in Emergency since the current fiscal year began in April. The department averages 42 visits per day.
The Emergency Department volume in 2011-2012 was 27 per cent higher than it was five years earlier. Residents of Mississippi Mills made up 56 per cent, or 8,930, of the patients.
The next largest group was from Ottawa, which is only a few minutes down the road. Carleton Place residents made eight per cent of the Emergency visits.
Patients who come to the Emergency Department are categorized according to the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS), which helps the staff prioritize patient care requirements.
The CTAS score is a more important factor in deciding who will be seen first (or next) than the time of registration or the order in which people arrive in the Emergency Department.
There are five CTAS levels. Level 1, Resuscitation, is the most serious. It describes conditions such as cardiac arrest or major trauma that threatens life or limb.
Level 5, Non Urgent, is the least serious; it may be part of a recurring problem or may be milder in nature. An example of this might be a sunburn.
Most of the people who visit the Almonte General Hospital Emergency Department are CTAS level 3 or level 4, which are the urgent and semi-urgent categories.
Some readers may find it surprising that the age group with the greatest number of emergency visits is 19 to 34. Seniors, those aged 65 and over, and children aged two to 14 are the next most frequent users of the Emergency Department. Together, these three categories make up 36 per cent of the visits.
In 2011-2012, the top 25 most frequent diagnoses for people visiting Emergency included pneumonia, chest and abdominal pain, and low back pain. At the top of the list was acute upper respiratory infection, followed by urinary tract infection.
The Emergency Department at Almonte General Hospital is a busy place, treating people of all ages who have a wide variety of illnesses and injuries.
The nursing staff responds to life-threatening emergencies and minor injuries with skill and compassion 24 hours per day, 365 days a year.
Mary Wilson Trider is the President and CEO of the Almonte General Hospital.