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Regina hospitals break fire code over crowded hallways, action needed: emails

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December 21, 2023
By The Canadian Press

Health & Safety Fire Code Hospitals regina saskatchewan

An ambulance parked at a hospital’s emergency department. Photo: Birkus-Viktor/Istock/Getty Images Plus

By Jeremy Simes

Two hospitals in Saskatchewan’s capital recently broke the fire code due to patients in beds crowding hallways, says a city fire inspector.

In leaked email correspondence the Opposition NDP shared on Wednesday, the inspector said the department understands the General and Pasqua hospitals in Regina are over capacity, but the violations are putting patients and staff at risk.

“Again, I’ll be clear, there shall be absolutely no placement of patients/beds within an egress corridor at any time,” the inspector wrote in the email sent Monday.

The email chain also includes a message to staff from Glen Perchie, a Saskatchewan Health Authority emergency medical services director, who wrote he understands staff are frustrated with delays off-loading patients into hospitals.

Paramedics have raised concerns that delays are resulting in longer waits for people to get an ambulance when they call for one.


“Please know that your EMS and emergency department leadership teams have escalated these concerns, as the issues driving the overcapacity are complex and require systemic action beyond the influence of our program areas,” he said.

Perchie described the email from the fire inspector as a “shot across the bow.”

“Simply put, placing patients or equipment in corridors is a contravention of the national fire code,” Perchie said.

Perchie said in his email he’s working to find an immediate solution.

But if the authority can’t find more suitable space, it may direct paramedics to keep patients in ambulances until the hospitals can take them, he said.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority said in an email it is to release a plan Thursday to address immediate and long-term pressures in Regina.

The authority released a plan in November to address similar pressures in Saskatoon after the St. Paul’s hospital broke the fire code over hallways being crowded with patients in beds.

The Saskatoon plan includes adding beds and deploying primary health staff into hospitals to identify patients who could be cared for at home or in a community facility.

Vicki Mowat, Opposition NDP health critic, said a health-care worker leaked the email out of frustration with the system.

“They’re frustrated that the solutions that are being brought forward by health-care workers are not being implemented and that it’s falling on deaf ears,” she told reporters.

Hospitals in Saskatchewan’s major cities have been over capacity due to a lack of space for people needing long-term or alternative care. There has also been short staffing, resulting in employees being overworked.

Mowat said it’s not easy to fix the health-care system, but the province needs to tackle it at all angles.

“We need to find other places in the system to move people to,” Mowat said. “And if those beds don’t exist in the hospital, they need to exist in the community.”


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