The hospital emergency rooms in St. Thomas and London are only 30 km apart.
But for patients, the first is a virtual speedway; the other, gridlock.
ER wait times in St. Thomas have been among Ontario’s shortest, even the best by some measures, while those in London have been among the longest — dead last in November, for less complex cases at University Hospital.
That gap grew wider last week as waits in London for simpler cases soared to about 10 hours. The London wait grew so long, the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) asked residents to stay away unless absolutely needed.
In contrast, all patients were welcomed in St. Thomas, where officials at the smaller hospital were confident they’d tame wait times with tools not used at all, or only in part, by its big-city neighbour.
Asked about the gap, London’s head of emergency medicine, Dr. Gary Joubert, said Monday the comparison isn’t fair — that community hospitals like St. Thomas have fewer complex cases and less trouble finding open hospital beds.
But as recently as the holidays, officials in St. Thomas say, their hospital beds were more overloaded with patients than London’s — and still, wait times were kept down.
London Free Press