Health region dealing with staffing shortages, increased demand

Staffing shortages and a high demand on health services continue to present challenges for the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region, the annual report, released Friday, reveals.

The 2016-17 annual report, which details the health region’s financial situation, progress towards achieving strategic goals and patient counts for the previous year, was released on Friday as it has to be tabled within 90 days of the fiscal year end of March 31.

No one from the health region was available for comment.

While the report showed significant improvement on improving safety and wait times in several areas, it also detailed the health region’s challenge filling some key roles, resulting in long wait times and budget overruns.

Emergency department visits to Victoria Hospital were u by about 500, and outpatient visits were also up slightly.

More people are also coming to Prince Albert for dialysis, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation.

Long-term care use was down in 2016-17, as was the number of days spent by patients with acute conditions in the hospital. Primary care clinic visits also decreased.

The number of vaccines administered also rose.

A major challenge highlighted with the report had to do with a large increase in mental health and addictions patients, while the region struggles to attract enough psychiatrists.

The number of mental health outpatient visits was up by more than 10,000. He number of outpatients accessing addictions services was also up, by about 500.

The region also has rates of arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, mood disorders, overweight or obese people, frequent smokers and heavy drinkers higher than the provincial and national rates.

“The health care challenges are often the result of poor social determinants of health, and require a community-wide effort to assist people in need,” the report said.

For more on this story, please see the July 29 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald