To all BC EMN Members,
As 2022 reaches a close, I want to personally thank all practitioners providing emergency care in BC for all that you have done to give emergency patients the best experience possible.
Many of us felt that widespread vaccinations would settle down the COVID-19 pandemic and lead us back to a more normal, steady state. Sadly that turned out not to be the case, as the pandemic continues (although slowed), flooding isolated communities and disrupted supply chains, a heat dome caused unprecedented deaths and now, an exceptional flu season is on the rise. Our colleagues (physicians, nurses and allied health professionals) continue to suffer from the unrelenting stress, with burnout or moral distress like we have never seen before. The health consequences due to the reduced system capacity and increased health care demand are still to be tabulated.
The hardest part of this crisis is that it has not always been possible to provide an optimal experience for patients. This is devastating, causing many to walk away from emergency care or health care altogether, resulting in further shortcomings and deterioration in the system of patient care. (Read this article for a commentary on the national ER crisis.)
I despair over what those who have left practice must have felt and are still feeling, and am awed by the courage and resilience of those who remain and every day give more than they should ever be expected to give.
The BC Emergency Medicine Network has always supported best practices through its four core pillars: point-of-care clinical resources, enhancement of experiential simulation learning, innovation and preventative research programs and supporting the sustainability of real time virtual support for patients and peers. Although we have achieved a lot, we have much more to do, guided by your needs.
Looking ahead to 2023, we will have more capability to enhance practitioner support but also be the voice of the emergency care community in policy discussions on improving the environment in our emergency departments. We all know the main system impediments: staff shortages, overcrowding and emergency department closures. We will work to remove these and other barriers to providing the best care possible. In addition to supporting practitioners with individual patient care, we hope to play a greater role in system improvements that will enable all practitioners to give their best and provide patients the care they deserve.
Although not always recognized, emergency care is a critical element of our health care system; it supports primary care, unplanned patient needs and is the entry point to the acute care system. Many of our current problems stem from unmet needs in primary care and acute hospital care, as well as delays in specialist diagnoses and treatments. A strong voice from the emergency community to work on system improvements in and beyond the emergency setting will be very important to improve the patient and provider experience. We will only be effective with your help.
Together, we can play a real role in improving the emergency care system to give patients and practitioners the best possible experience.
The BC EMN looks forward to the challenge!
Warm regards to you all,
Dr. Jim Christenson
Executive Medical Director, BC EMN
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