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Paramedics stuck waiting in hallway with patients due to Saskatoon hospital overcrowding

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A Saskatoon paramedic could spend the majority of their shift standing beside a stretcher in a hospital hallway.

Paramedics have to wait with their patient at the hospital until a bed is available. As hospitals face situations where the number of patients exceed available beds, paramedics are feeling the effects.

"In a 12-hour shift, a crew may only do one call because the rest of the time is spent in the hallway," Adam Fedrau, the secretary-treasurer of the Saskatoon Paramedic Association, told CTV News.

"It ends up impacting people that are waiting for ambulances that can't get one."

Fedrau said the wait time can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours.

Saskatoon paramedics have had to call on rural ambulances that have travelled into the city and offloaded a patient ahead of a local crew.

"We will have rural services come into the city and do calls in Saskatoon when we don't have an ambulance that's available ... It's something that we haven't had to do in Saskatoon very much at all, until recently," said Fedrau, a paramedic of 10 years.

"But that just pulls an ambulance away from that rural centre that may only have one or two ambulances to begin with."

Troy Davies, the director of public affairs for Medavie Health Services West, said long offload wait times is especially problematic as paramedics are seeing record call volumes this year.

"We've never seen RUH at the capacity levels that it's been at," Davies said.

"There's times where we're stuck in hallways, maybe six to eight hours."

Sask. Health Minister Everett Hindley said "progress is being made" on patient flow to alleviate hospital overcapacity.

Hindley referenced the Saskatchewan Health Authority's (SHA) action plan announced last month — released after St. Paul's Hospital was found to be in violation of a fire code because exit doors didn't have enough width to open.

Hindley said he went to St. Paul's Hospital on Thursday to get a better grasp on the issue.

"To be able to see first-hand what's happening there at St. Paul's hospital, talk to frontline health care workers, hear some of their solutions — which as a matter of fact, have been acted upon already by the SHA," Hindley said. 

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