The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses is concerned about patient safety in the Regina Pasqua Hospital's emergency department.
"We know that in an area designed to have 32 patients, they have 60. We are at a huge overcapacity issue," said SUN President Tracy Zambory.
Zambory said the problem — while bad on Monday — is not brand new and has been happening for some time. She said there have been waves of capacity issues for the past several weeks. She said the main concern for registered nurses in the ER is a "pretty significant patient safety issue."
She said the Pasqua ER is using a hallway where staff wait for a shuttle as an over-capacity area for patients.
"There are sheets that have been sort of stuck inside the ceiling tiles trying to give these people just a little bit of privacy. There should be never a situation where this happens. We're very concerned."
"There are no call bells, there's no oxygen, there's no safety that you would have in a normal hospital room...particularly emergency room. There should be absolutely no excuse for people being nursed in the hallway where there's no safety measures."
"This should never happen ever."
Influenza outbreak cause for spike, SHA says
The Saskatchewan Health Authority said an inpatient unit is "closed to admissions due to an influenza outbreak, which has created additional pressure on the Pasqua Emergency Department."
The SHA said occupancy is "heightened" at both Regina hospitals.
"Overcapacity plans are in place and additional staff are being called in to assist with the additional load as we continue to ensure patients are receiving safe care," the statement said.
'Hallway medicine' a concern for months
The Saskatchewan NDP raised the issue of "hallway medicine" during the fall sitting of the legislature.
At the time, Minister of Health Jim Reiter called the issues with capacity in ERs "bad."
In November, a patient died in a Saskatoon ER and SUN said the death was due to overcrowding and short-staffing. Reiter said a critical incident review was triggered but initially found patient care was not a factor in the death.
The SHA also set up a command centre in late October to deal with ER issues in Regina and Saskatoon. For Zambory, the steps taken thus far by the SHA are not having the desired impact on the ground.
She said nurses need to know what plan is in place and if there is a plan, why it is not working.
"We need to be having a bigger, fulsome conversation about primary health care. We need to have a fulsome strategy on mental health and addictions."
Zambory said the data from Saskatoon clearly shows the number of people coming to the ER with mental health or addictions issues, but the same information for Regina is not available.