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Patient satisfaction with KGH emergency room lags behind other hospitals

Monday, March 29th, 2010 | 5:00 am

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The entrance to Kelowna General Hospital's emergency department. (Photo Adrian Nieoczym)

By John McDonald

Interior Health is pushing to increase patient satisfaction with service in the emergency room at Kelowna General Hospital, which according to a provincial survey, lags significantly behind other major hospitals in the health authority.

Nancy Serwo, director of health services at KGH, said several factors have combined to push satisfaction down, including the extensive construction and renovation currently underway at the hospital.

“We’ve had to change the access to the emergency room last year, which has been quite a challenge,” she said. “We’ve taken steps to improve signage on the street and internally. The parking situation is somewhat better than it was, but that was significantly affecting us as well.”

Serwo could not explain why Vernon Jubilee Hospital, undergoing similar construction and renovations, posted a satisfaction rate of 91.1 per cent for its emergency room, the highest in the health authority, while KGH is at the bottom with 76.3 per cent. The provincial average is 83.9 per cent.

“I can’t really comment specifically on that,” she said. “I haven’t studied the differences in the two sites.”

The results of the patient satisfaction survey were delivered to IHA board members by CEO Dr. Rob Halpenny during Wednesday’s board meeting. The province tracks patient satisfaction with a monthly survey, scoring it on a five-point ranking. According to Halpenny, the target is to have 90 per cent of reports score three or higher.

Cariboo Memorial Hospital posted a patient satisfaction average of 90 per cent, just behind Vernon Jubilee, with Shushwap Lake coming in at 89.7 per cent, East Kootenay Regional at 88.8 per cent, Royal Inland at 87.3 per cent and Penticton Regional at 84.4 per cent.

In his report, Halpenny noted that KGH has increased from 73.3 per cent. “The leadership team at KGH has implemented new measures, such as adding an additional physician shift to address the wait times in the department, and hiring of replacement staff, to address the challenges in the department,” Halpenny wrote.

Ironically, one of the measures designed to reduce wait times in the KGH emergency room is also a source of complaints.

“The streaming project has been a huge success, but there has been some challenges around privacy which is one of the things that affect satisfaction,” Serwo said.

Streaming allows patients with less serious problems to move more quickly into the emergency room, if they are willing to sit and wait for treatment in a designated area. It reduces congestion in the emergency room by freeing up limited bed space for more serious cases.

But Serwo said the current streaming waiting area is crowded into a hallway, with examination and treatment stations just a few feet away.

“When we move into the new space, we will have more chairs with more space between them and better washroom facilities,” she said. “It’s not going to feel so much like you’re sitting cheek to jowl with someone else.”

The new emergency room at KGH, almost four times the size of the current space, is due to open in 2012.


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One Response to “Patient satisfaction with KGH emergency room lags behind other hospitals”

  1. Ian says:
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    I find it hard to believe that the satisfaction is as high as 76.3%. It is easy to see the denial in the administration, who believe it is the construction, not the service of care, attitude of staff or “hallway care” that drive down the satisfaction. I go out of my way to drive to Penticton or Vernon to avoid KGH after multiple disasterous visits to KGH (and not a single positive), even though it increases my expense and time.

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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